It is widely recognised that mixed stock fisheries present particular difficulties for management and species conservation, and on that basis District Salmon Fishery Boards (DSFBs) must implement conservation action during any period that stock analysis indicates that management intervention to protect stocks from inappropriate levels of exploitation is necessary.
The Scottish Government has announced a major review of fisheries management in Scotland and the Minister for Environment and Climate Change specifically indicated that the management of coastal netting would be considered as part of that review. ASFB welcome this undertaking and hope that issues of salmon conservation, financial contribution to management and management of close times are fully resolved. On the issue of dormant netting stations coming back into use, we we would wish to ensure that de-commissioned sites remain de-commissioned.
Numbers of returning adults are so low that some spring stocks are close to, or below, being self-sustaining; the earliest running fish are the most vulnerable part of this stock component. 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 position that no fish should be killed before the 15th May. Over recent years very high levels of catch and release have been achieved during the spring, largely through voluntary policies and we would encourage all DSFBs to ensure that their conservation policies reflect this position. ASFB would also urge all netting interests to engage with their local DSFB to work together to develop and implement local agreements continuing the significant support that has been shown by both netsmen and anglers to protect vulnerable early stock components.