Mandatory Catch and Release on 89 Scottish Rivers Next Year

One for the future?

In their report “THE APPLICATION OF CONSERVATION LIMITS FOR ATLANTIC SALMON IN SCOTLAND” (See Note 1 for the link) the Scottish Government provides the basis on which they made their decision on where to apply mandatory catch and release in 2016. The result is that of the 109 Fishery Districts and 19 Special Areas of Conversation (SAC) 19 are classed Grade 1, 18 are classed Grade 2 and 89 are classed grade 3. There will be a total kill ban on Grade 3 fisheries or 81.65% of all salmon fisheries in Scotland. (See Note 2 for the criteria for the grades / categories).

There are 19 areas designated as Special Areas of Conservation of which:

 9 are Grade 1; Borgie, Dee, Naver, Oykel, Spey, Tay, Teith, Thurso, Tweed

4 are Grade 2; Berriedale, Langavat, North Harris, South Esk

4 are Grade 3; Bladnoch, Endrick, Moriston, Little Gruinard

The full list for Fishery Districts is as follows:

Grade 1
Deveron, Doon, Fincastle (non SAC), Findhorn, Forss, Grudie, Halladale, Helmsdale, North Esk, Wick.

Combined Fishery District and SAC, 19

Grade 2
Alness, Brora, Conon, Don, Dunbeath, Hope, Girvan, Kinloch, Kyle of Sutherland (non SAC), Nairn, Stinchar, Torridon, Tweed (non SAC), Ythan

Combined Fishery District and SAC, 18

Grade 3
Add, Ailort, Aline, Annan, Applecross, Arnisdale, Awe, Ayr, Baa, Badachro, Balgay, Beauly, Berriedale (non SAC)*, Bervie, Bladnoch(non SAC) *,  Broom, Carradale, Carron, Clayburn, Clyde (non SAC), Cree, Creed, Creran, Croe, Dee (Aberdeenshire non SAC), Dee (Kirkcudbright), Drummachloy, Eckcaig, Ewe, Fleet (Kirkcudbright), Fleet (Sutherland)*, Forth (non SAC) Fyne, Glenelg, Gour *, Gress, Gruinard (nonSAC), Howmore, Inchard, Inner, Inver, Iorsa, Irvine, Kennart, Kilchoan,  Kirkaig, Kishorn, Laggan, Laxford, Leven, Little Loch Broom, Loch Long, Loch Roag (non SAC), Lochy, Lossie, Luce, Lussa, Moidart, Morar, Mullanageren, Naver (non SAC), Nell, Ness (non SAC) Nith, Orkney *, Ormsary,  Pennygowan, Resort (non SAC *),  Ruel, Sanda, Scaddle, Shetland *, Sheil, Sligachan, Small Iles, Snizort, South Esk (non SAC *), Spey (non SAC), Strathy, Sunart, Tay (non SAC), Thurso (non SAC *), Ugie, Ullapool, Urr

Combined Fishery District and SAC, 89

The above lists the grades for the Fishery Districts and SACs excluding the other rivers and lochs making up a system. For example The Leven and Endrick are Grade 3 therefore it has to be assumed that catch and release will be mandatory on Loch Lomond. The anomaly is the Teith (a Grade 1 SAC) which is part of the Forth system (a Grade 3 Fishery District) that technically can allow catch and kill. Sadly many of the Grade 3 waters and their tributaries are Association waters where a lead has been taken in the conservation of stocks for many years while access to salmon fishing has been facilitated at affordable prices.

In another article on Spinfish “A Question of Our Sport” I expressed concerns that government involvement could be the thin end of the wedge challenging the future of our sport. Anglers will, for the future of salmon fishing, bite the bullet and forego taking a salmon for the table for as long as it takes to restore stocks. We can, after all, buy a bit of salmon in any supermarket. While doing so I hope legislators acknowledge that for every kilo of salmon grown 2.5 kilos of fish have to be foraged. A massive 4 to 5 million tonnes of fish have to be harvested to feed the booming aquaculture industry. Marine survival has been identified as the crucial factor in the viability of salmon stocks. While we put our fish back to live and spawn something has to be done to ensure that the off spring of those spawners have something to eat when they go to sea or our efforts will be in vain.

(Note 1)

(Note 2) Grade / Category criteria taken from the above report

Category 1 (probability of meeting catch limits 80% or 4 out of 5 of the last years)

Advice provided (either to District Salmon Fishery Board or proprietors/fisheries in areas without a DSFB) indicating that exploitation is sustainable therefore no additional management action is currently required. This recognises the effectiveness of existing non-statutory local management interventions.

Category 2 (probability of meeting catch limits, 60 – 80% 3 out of 5 of the last years)

Management action is necessary to reduce exploitation; mandatory catch and release will not be required in the first instance, but this will be reviewed annually. Production of a conservation plan is required in consultation with Marine Scotland. Where a DSFB does not exist, assistance in plan formulation will be offered to those concerned. 

Category 3 (probability of meeting catch limits, less than 60% <2 out of 5 of the last years)

Exploitation is unsustainable therefore management actions required to reduce exploitation for 1 year i.e. mandatory catch and release (all methods).  Production of a conservation plan is required in consultation with Marine Scotland.