Thursday, January 12, 2006
Protection of Nessie perplexed men from the ministry
JEAN FORREST January 09 2006
SENIOR government officials debated how best to protect the Loch Ness monster from poachers.
Newly-released files show that during the 1980s the government was in turmoil about how to deal with the monster should it ever surface.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the secretary of state for Scotland spent time contemplating whether Nessie should be protected.
Records released through the Freedom of Information Act show discussions about Nessie at the Scottish Office began in 1985.
British officials reacted after the Swedish government was looking for advice on what to do about the country's mythical creature, the Storsjo monster.
A letter was sent from the British embassy in Stockholm to the under-secretary at the Scottish Office. It began: "I am sorry to bother you with an inquiry which will no doubt be greeted at first glance with gales of laughter."
The letter sparked a flurry of memos between government departments.
JB Barty, a rural group civil servant, wrote: "The protection of this putative denizen of the deep deserves serious consideration."
JF Buckle, an official at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, wrote: "Unfortunately, Nessie is not a salmon and would not appear to qualify as a freshwater fish under the Salmon and Fisheries Protection (Scotland) Act 1951."
The Swedish Nessie equivalent did enjoy specific legal protection from 1986, but it was revoked two months ago.
It was decided Nessie should be protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, rather than specialised legislation. This made it an offence to snare, shoot or blow it up.
Copyright 2006, The Herald
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