Oct 25 2012 By Patricia Lewis
John Thom from New Galloway by the banks of Loch Ken
A major British supermarket has expressed an interest in buying crayfish from Loch Ken.
And a deal could be worth millions of pounds for the village if it goes ahead.
It would also help tackle the massive problem the out of control crayfish population is creating on a loch once popular with anglers.
The company, which has not been named, approached New Galloway Community Council.
Community councillor John Thom, who is leading a project to create a fishery on the waters, said: A supermarket has shown an interest. We only found out last week. It is one of the big four.
If this happens we could see crayfish being sold in a lot of places. It is quite exciting. We are 90 per cent there in getting a licence (to fish the loch for crayfish). Hopefully things will be set-up by next year.
Fishing on Loch Ken has been badly hit in the last several years because of the invasive American Signal Crayfish.
The shellfish grow and reproduce at a fast rate, often destroying other fish stocks in the process as they compete for food.
Tourism on the loch has also been affected as anglers stay away.
The project to create a fishery to process and sell on the shellfish was set-up last year in a bid to tackle the problem.
MSP Alex Fergusson, who is backing the project said: Im delighted that the product has gained that interest (from a supermarket).
It proves what Ive always believed, that there is a market there and I certainly hope that a licence will be granted for the loch to be fished.
The community council and businesses are in discussions with Marine Scotland about a licence which is needed to remove crayfish from the loch.
But the final decision will be made by Scottish Natural Heritage, which is set to take over licence granting powers in the near future.