SCOTTISH WILD FISHERIES REFORM
Wild Fishery Reform & Salmon Conservation Regulations
In 2014 Scottish Ministers embarked on a review of "wild fisheries" in Scotland. Details of this review can be found here.
As the review progressed, two aspects came to prominence in 2015, "licence to kill" (salmon) and "Wild Fisheries Reform". Scottish Government information on licence to kill can be found here and Wild Fisheries Reform here.
SALMON CONSERVATION REGULATIONS
Since 2016, Scotland’s salmon rivers are categorised annually by Marine Scotland into one of three categories of health (more information here). As all of the Tay and its tributaries above Earnmouth is considered to be in the healthiest category (Category 1) there is no need to change our current conservation policy for the Tay.
However, for rivers in category 3, complete mandatory catch and release is required. In 2016 the rivers Earn and Eden within the Tay district were classed as category 3. In 2016 the Board had major concerns over the methodology used by Scottish Ministers to classify rivers and thought that the Earn and Eden may have been wrongly classified. The reasons why we believed this in 2016 is explained here. In September 2016, after some changes to the methodology, Scottish Ministers reclassified the Earn and Eden as Category 2, which meant mandatory catch and release was not required in 2017. While the Board welcomed that change at the time, it believed further improvement of the methodology were still required as explained here.
However, in September 2017, Marine Scotland published new proposals for 2018. The Earn and Eden are once again to be Category 3. However, once again the methodology had been changed and the downgrade was probably in large part caused by this change. The Board considers that there are still major problems with the methodology being used, particularly when applied to lowland rivers like the Earn and Eden. Some of the fundamental concerns previously raised by the Board had not been addressed. The Board’s response to Marine Scotland’s September 2017 consultation can be found here.
In addition to the above, in 2016, Scottish Ministers also introduced a 3 year moratorium on all coastal salmon netting. This will be followed by a review at the end of that period.
WILD FISHERIES REFORM
For several years Scottish Ministers proposed to change the type of organisations that manage Scottish salmon and freshwater fisheries. Details of the process can be found here. The Board responded to several consultations (our response to that of 7 August 2015 can be found here and that of May 2016 can be found here). As our consultation responses show, we had major concerns over some areas, particularly finance.
However, in February 2017, after analysing the consultation responses, Scottish Ministers announced that they would no longer be changing the structure and function of district salmon fisheries boards or introducing rod licences etc but they would still be encouraging voluntary mergers of boards and would continue to develop the concept of fishery management planning. Scottish Ministers have repeatedly stated they may introduce a fisheries Bill in the course of this Parliament, but it is not clear when this might be nor what it might contain.