The Scottish Government promised an exception to a law banning the catching and keeping of salmon in the area, allowing haaf netters taking part in a scientific study to retain three fish per licence.
But in a briefing note to councillors last Thursday, senior manager of community and customer services Jamie Ferguson said: “I was astounded when on June 29 2016, two days after the issuing of the licences, council received an e-mail from John Armstrong, research scientist with Marine Scotland, informing us that Marine Scotland had failed to obtain the proper licence for scientific research to be carried out and hence salmon catch must cease.”
Surprise was expressed to Marine Scotland at the call to revoke licences, noting the Scottish Government had not warned of any issues which might prevent licences being issued.
And it was noted Marine Scotland had supplied fishing tags for a start date, arranged for a fridge to be put into the Fish House and for River Annan Fisheries Board bailiffs to carry out the administration work for the start date.
Mr Ferguson informed Marine Scotland that the Common Good would not take responsibility for revoking the licence extensions as the council had acted in good faith.
But a letter on behalf of Marine Scotland was prepared informing haaf netters that the scientific extension was being halted.
However, just hours later, the Scottish Government confirmed the required permissions for scientific research were in place.
Addressing the situation, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “There was a short delay in in Marine Scotland’s application for an exemption and it was decided to take a precautionary approach while this was completed.
“Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Annan District Salmon Fishery Board were kept advised throughout and we apologise for any inconvenience that might have been caused to the haaf netters involved in the research project.
“We would also reiterate our commitment to designate the Annan haaf net fishery as an historic fishery in the lifetime of this parliament.”