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.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Mel McDonald at 3:47 pm

    I have sent in my views to the consultation.
    It would be intersting to hear your views on whether licences should be granted on any river which is at or below conservation limits. Your other post today suggests that the Spey may be borderline in this regard ?

    • Brian Shaw Author at 6:10 pm

      Disclaimer: the views expressed by the author of this blog are not necessarily those of his employer.

      Hi Mel, if a river is below it’s conservation limit then it is difficult to make a case for a harvest; although it does happen for a variety of reasons. Someone will have to assess that very point for each river based on pretty scant information. I understand there is a rod catch tool under development but as you know rod catches are not necessarily a great indicator of the stock. Looking at the Spey the Fishery Board have made it as clear as they can via the conservation policy that no fish should be killed in the spring, I’m sure there would be little disagreemnent on that point. Splitting the rest of the season into summer and autumn the late season run is diminishing rapidly. Summer seems to be when the runs are most abundant (relatively so) so you could possibly make a case for a limited harvest during that period but even then the runs during that period are barely sufficient to support a viable fishery.
      A reasonable estimate would be that the coastal mixed stock nets, which operate from April onwards, are removing in the order of 1000 salmon destined for the Spey. That exploitation occurs at a time of the year when the rod fishery is struggling to maintain employment and economic activity of the most sustainable nature. There are some difficult decison to be made!

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