HC Deb 10 August 1888 vol 330 cc310-1
DR. R. M'DONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

asked the Lord Advocate, If, on May 10 last, a fisherman of the name of Robert Hogg, belonging to the village of Saltburn, near Invergordon, had his fishing-gear and coble confiscated by the water-bailiffs of the district while fishing in the bay near his residence, without any explanation being given as to the reason for the confiscation; by what right, or under what statute, such confiscation has been made; whether he is aware that the said Hogg has fished in the Cromarty Firth for the last 20 years, in the locality in which he has now been interfered with, with a similar boat and nets, without once being interfered with; whether the water-bailiffs have a right to hold Hogg's property, as they still do, for an unlimited period; and, if he is guilty of a criminal offence, why he is not prosecuted for the same, instead of being deprived of his means of making a living for an indefinite length of time?

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

Last year Hogg was suspected of illegally taking salmon, and was cautioned. He was again cautioned in February last. On the occasion in question, he was seen illegally fishing during the night for about three hours, aided by three other persons, and in his boat 38 fish were found. The net was of a mesh forbidden bye-law, and was made like a salmon-fishing net. The seizure was made under Sections 26 and 27 of the Act of 1862, and Section 15 of the Act of 1868. I am not aware that Hogg had fished for salmon for 20 years with such nets and boats; but if he did so he committed an offence against the law. As already stated, he was twice warned before this seizure. The delay in instituting legal proceedings has been, in my opinion, most improper; but for this the criminal authorities are not responsible, as these cases are not reported to, or conducted by, the Crown Prosecutor. I have, however, called attention to the impropriety of a prosecution being so long delayed, particularly where articles have been seized; but I must add that it is incorrect to say that Hogg is deprived of his means of living. He has since the seizure been pursuing his proper avocation as a deep sea fisher, for which the boat and net seized were quite unsuitable.