Game Fishing

Fishery boards call for moratorium on killing salmon

Salmon fishery boards have unveiled proposals for no salmon to be killed in Scotland – either by nets or rods – before min-May.

The Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) has recommended no spring salmon should be killed before 15 May.

In order to protect vital salmon spring stocks on Scotland's main rivers, the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) called for an unprecedented moratorium on killing salmon amidst rising fears of a dramatic decline in stocks this year.

The call has come as anglers prepare for the new salmon fishing season which will open in the next few weeks.

The anglers in Scotland already operate a catch and release policy, but ASFB claims that additional protection measures are now needed as the number of returning salmon adults was very low in some areas.

ASFB chairman Alasdair Laing said: "Numbers of returning adults are so low that some stocks of spring salmon are close to, or below, being self-sustaining; the earliest running fish are the most vulnerable.

"It is a well-established management principle that breeding fish should not be killed where a stock is threatened or vulnerable. On that basis it is the ASFB recommendation that no fish should be killed before 15 May."

'Zero exploitation policy for a longer period'

He continued: "Where local evidence demonstrates that additional protection is required, District Salmon Fishery Boards (DSFBs) may wish to maintain a zero exploitation policy for a longer period.

"Over recent years very high levels of catch and release have been achieved during the spring, largely through voluntary policies and we are encouraging all DSFBs to ensure that their conservation policies reflect this position".

Nick Yonge, from the River Tweed Commission, said: "The Tweed has very small stocks of spring salmon; these are distinct breeding populations of fish and we know that there are only just enough of them to sustain the populations.

"Without our Spring Conservation Scheme, which prohibits killing rod-caught spring fish, in some years there would be insufficient breeders to keep these stocks sustainable".

'Salmon catches declined in 2013'

According to Spey Fishery Board, 2013 was the most challenging year in the last decade for some of Scotland's rivers.
Salmon catches on the River Spey have reached an annual average of 9,000 fish in the last decade.

However, in 2013, salmon catches on the Spey numbered 5,780 fish.

Roger Knight, the Spey Fishery Board director, said that cold winter followed by a dry weather in the summer and low water levels caused fewer catches to be made on rivers across Scotland.

Regarded as a classic Scottish salmon fishing river, the Spey is Scotland's second longest river after the Tay and the seventh largest river in Britain.
It emerges from Loch Spey in the Monadhliath Mountains in the Highlands and flows into the Moray Firth at Spey Bay on Scotland's north east coast.

Mr Knight told BBC Radio Scotland: "2013 proved to be a particularly challenging one for anglers and that was reflected in our catches.
"That situation was not peculiar to just the River Spey. It was a pattern that was reflected across many rivers across Scotland throughout last year."

Keith Allan, the secretary of the netsmen’s association, accused anglers of doing nothing for salmon conservation for 14 years while netsmen had suffered financially as a result of their voluntary postponement.

Netsmen are legally entitled to start netting in mid-February but the delay has meant that, since 1999, no spring salmon has been caught until April at the earliest. But the netsmen have voted to scrap the voluntary six week delay.
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