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Derek has been involved with salmon since 1953 as a scientist, university teacher, consultant and administrator. He was in charge of the Salmon Research Laboratory in Contin under the direction of the Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory in Pitlochry for a number of years before being appointed a senior lecturer and fellow in the Institute of Ecology and Resource Management at the University of Edinburgh. During his thirty years at the University he held a number of extra-mural appointments. He served as consultant biologist to the Scottish Branch of the Salmon and Trout Association; fishery adviser to the North of Scotland Hydro-electric Board (and then Scottish Hydro-electric), he was fishery consultant to Central Scotland Water Board, Fife and Kinross Water Board and Grampian Regional Council. He set up the Scottish branch of the Institute of Fisheries Management and was its first chairman. He was also a committee member of the Tweed River Purification  Board, the South-East Regional Board of the Nature Conservancy Council Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scientific Advisory Committee of Scottish Natural Heritage and a trustee of the Tweed Foundation and Cromarty Firth Fisheries Trust. He is presently a River Tweed Commissioner.

Derek was on the honorary Scientific Advisory Panel of the Atlantic Salmon Trust for over thirty years and was its chairman for ten.

His work as a fisheries consultant also took him south of the border and he was Consultant to the Welsh National Water Development Board and the Wye River Authority working on the proposed Craig Goch Reservoir Scheme.

He was editor of Blackwell's journals Fisheries Management (1974 - 84) and Journal of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management (1985 - 93). He is presently on the Editorial Board of Elsevier's journal Fisheries Research.

His Medlar book Saving Scotland's Salmon has received some excellent reviews (see the book page) and was described as follows in The Scots Magazine in 2009:

' . . . a brilliantly succinct analysis of the past, present and likely future of a fish which has been part of Scottish life since the days of primitive peoples' - The Scots Magazine