News release from Scottish Government on Wild Fisheries Reform

03/02/17 12:19

Wild fisheries

Protecting the rights of anglers.

Anglers in Scotland will be shielded from increased costs. Proposals to introduce rod licences and a new wild fisheries levy will not be taken forward, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has announced.

The Scottish Government has ruled out these measures as well as the criminalisation of freshwater fishing without written permission and proposals to overhaul the structure and remit of District Salmon Fishery Boards, following a consultation on draft provisions for a Wild Fisheries (Scotland) Bill and draft Wild Fisheries Strategy.

The Scottish Government will facilitate? work streams which encourage, empower and support the modernisation of fishery management, including the piloting of voluntary board mergers to identify any existing legislative issues. It will also develop a fishery management plan to trial any changes with boards and will also explore potential freshwater conservation provisions ahead of the introduction of a Bill to Parliament.

Ms Cunningham said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our famous and valuable wild fisheries, to modernise our fishery management structures and to establish a more secure and sustainable future for this vital sector.

“Our Wild Fisheries Bill will build on our significant conservation achievements to date, including the annual salmon conservation measures, Spring Conservation Orders, and the moratorium on coastal mixed stock fishery netting for three years.

“However it’s important that we represent the interests of our anglers, that’s why we have listened to the sector’s concerns around increasing costs and restricting access to fisheries and are ruling out the introduction of rod licences and a freshwater levy.

“We’ve heard through the consultation that these steps would limit the opportunities for our anglers and potentially discourage young people from taking part. Over and above this we will work with the angling community to identify ways to increase participation and to improve engagement across the sector.

“I am grateful for the considerable time and energy that the wild fisheries sector has given to date to help inform the programme of reform. We will continue to work closely with our stakeholders to make sure the legislation that is ultimately brought forward is robust and fit for purpose, so that anglers have confidence in the management and development of the fisheries that they depend on.”


The analysis of the consultation is available to view at:

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Government consultation on salmon conservation

Last week the Government launched a consultation on a number of issues regarding fishing for and conservation of salmon stocks. The consultation can be read here. The consultation documents can be downloaded from the menu on the right.

The main measures in the consultation are:

  1. Proposal that no salmon are killed in Scotland except under licence
  2. Proposals to specify the type of tackle that can be used, the aim being to minimise accidental damage to fish
  3. The introduction of carcass tags
  4. Cost recovery for the licencing system

It is important to note that the consultation does not mean no salmon can be killed in the future rather someone is going to have to establish how many can be killed sustainably. The consultation suggests that proprietors/owners of fisheries should apply for a licence allowing them, or their anglers,  to kill a specific number of fish in any particular year. I can see a few interesting issues here; how many fish can be sustainably harvest from any particular river and how will that allocation be divided up between beats, or even between rods and nets? The consultation also states that if the fishery owner doesn’t apply for a licence then that fishery will be catch and release only. In some ways the introduction of licences could be a good thing. The “quota” should be flexible so if runs improve and we have a surfeit of spring fish (!) it is only right that they should be harvested rather than die of disease.

If you have views on the suitability or not of any item of salmon tackle this is your chance to say so.  I do have views on this, and I will make them known but if I was a tackle dealer I wouldn’t be stocking up with trebles.

Carcass tagging is probably an essential part of modern salmon management; if policed effectively it will bring a new level of accountability to catch data across all sectors. However, the costs of the scheme will be a tricky one for the government to get right. With their predilection for universal benefits it would be somewhat ironic if only those qualifying for a free bus pass could afford to kill a fish.

Make sure you make your views known by responding to the consulation, it ends on the 30th April 2015 with new legislation in time for the 2016 season.

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