Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board

Protecting and Improving The Tay System


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.

Since 2016, Scotland’s salmon rivers have been 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) Scottish Ministers have not required mandatory catch and release all season. Voluntary conservation recommendations remain in the Board’s remit.
However, for rivers in category 3, complete mandatory catch and release is required. Since the start of this process the Eden was classified as category 3 in 2016, 2018 and 2019. The Earn was category 3 in 2016 and 2018. Scottish Ministers are proposing to make both rivers category 3 again in 2020.
A main reason for some of these year to year changes is that the methodology used by Marine Scotland has changed over time. The Board and others on other rivers has raised issues with the methodology and some of these, but not all, have been taken on board. This resulted, for example, in the upgrading of the Earn in 2019. Some of the Board’s concerns regarding the methodology can be found here, here and here.
The downgrading of the Earn proposed for 2020 has arisen because the current assessment, based on five year catches, now considers catch data from 2018 which was a poorer season and lost 2013, a better year, off the other end. There are still issues with the methodology which require to be addressed, though Marine Scotland have a moratorium on doing this. However, as 2019 catches are not likely to be high, the 2021 assessment is likely to push the Earn’s estimate further down from its present marginal cat 3 / 2 status.
In addition to the above, in 2016, Scottish Ministers also introduced a 3 year moratorium on all coastal salmon netting, followed by a review. This moratorium continues.

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 .