New Scottish Government conservation proposals

Yesterday, the news broke that the Scottish Government are intending to bring in new conservation measures for Atlantic Salmon, after the public consultation on the matter earlier this year. The main features of the measures are that it will be prohibited to take a salmon outwith inland waters, and that there will be a licensing system in place for the killing of salmon in Scotland. Basically, this means that coastal netting will no longer be allowed, and that rod fishermen will need both a licence and a carcass tag if they want to kill a salmon.

Licenses will be limited to a certain number per area, and are hoped to give more control over the conservation of salmon by only allowing the killing of salmon where there is considered to be more salmon than is required to continue a healthy stock. The stock will be assessed based on the number of adult salmon returning over the last 5 years. The assessments will be based on areas designated as a Special Area of Conservation (i.e the Spey), as the number of fish being killed must leave enough in the stock to meet the conservation aims of this designation. The carcass tagging is to aid with the enforcement of the licensing system. Each tag will be uniquely numbered for identification. If a salmon is found dead without a tag this will be illegal and the fine could be in excess of £2,500.

As coastal netting targets salmon that are difficult to trace back to their home rivers (known as ‘mixed stock fisheries’) this means that it is very challenging to manage the fishery, as it is unclear which stocks are being exploited and to what extent. For example, if 1000 fish are caught by a net, it is almost impossible to work out how many of those would be fish would have returned to the Spey. Therefore the decision to prohibit this method of fishing (unless proved that is it sustainable) is hoped to significantly improve the conservation of salmon in Scotland.

The consultation process highlighted that there were many differing views on the regulations behind the types of baits and lures used in salmon fishing, and hence the government is taking the time to consider this area further before introducing new legislation.

As the Wild Fisheries Reform progresses, the government is expected to review the measures accordingly.

For only a week, an online discussion has been opened which allows users to share their views and questions about these measures, and we would suggest that people who have thoughts on this get involved. The forum can be accessed here. Similarly, if you wish to raise an objection in a more formal manner, then this can be done too.

“Representations or objections in respect of the proposed conservation regulations should be submitted by 19 August 2015 using the contact details below. Representations shall include, where relevant, details of any financial implications particularly related to loss of income.

Fiona Hepburn, Marine Scotland Salmon and Recreational Fisheries, Team Area 1B, North Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ. Email:”

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. olivier Devictor at 5:43 pm

    Andrew Douglas-Home has written a long editorial about the SG conservation proposals on the Tweedbeats Website, this Sunday, which is worth reading .

  2. Mike Donald at 1:53 pm

    initially the conservation aims seem to be quite good but I am led to believe that the closure of the Netting Stations is only a temporary measure in order to collect data to see if there is a sustainable stock to allow netting!

    I fear the setting up of a carcass tagging system will be no help to rivers who, by way of a voluntary code, have been returning all the fish they catch for a number of years. Surely it is a backward step to give tags to these rivers to kill fish?

    My personal view of this matter is that I would like to see a total ban on killing any salmon in river say for a five year period, in order to facilitate detailed research to be carried out and perhaps allowing the stock to recover to a more sustainable level. This view is shared by many others too!

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