Legislation

Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003
The 2003 Act consolidated the vast majority of the Scottish salmon and freshwater fisheries law into a single Act. The 2003 Act is the key governing legislation for Scotland’s district salmon fishery boards, and it sets out the provisions for the constitution, composition and financing of the boards. It is also the framework for a number of other important regulatory areas, including legal methods of fishing and offences, close times, local regulatory measures, protection of juvenile and spawning salmon, passage of salmon, and general powers relating to appointment of water bailiffs and enforcement of salmon and freshwater fisheries law. A number of amendments were made to the 2003 Act by the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007, and the 2007 Act should be consulted separately to see the effect of any amendments. The 2003 Act is set out here, with links to the relevant sections of the Act. ASFB have produced Guidance on Freshwater Fisheries and the Law in Scotland.This guide is not a legal document and does not provide a legal view on any of the provisions. ASFB have also produced a guide of offences under Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries legislation in Scotland. This information is also included below.

Regulation of fisheries
Boards have no ability to make legal restrictions on fishing of their own accord. Instead, they must request that Scottish Ministers make regulatory measures for their district. Until recently, Boards were limited by statute to asking for local regulations to prohibit the use of certain baits or lures or for orders to alter the annual close time for fishing. Under other legislation, national regulations have been made by Government for example, concerning the use of netting twines in salmon fishing, the free passage of salmon in rivers and the weekly close time for salmon fishing. The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003, allows Boards to make applications to Ministers for a greater range of statutory measures to allow them to manage and conserve more effectively the fish and fisheries in their district. For the first time, it would also give Ministers powers to make regulations of their own initiative to conserve salmon.

General list of salmon and freshwater fisheries offences

Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003
This should be read in conjunction with the Aquaculture and Fisheries (Scotland) Act 2007 which inserts a number of amendments and new offences into the 2003 Act.
Section Offence Note
1 (1) Fishing for salmon in inland waters other than by rod and line or net & coble or – in certain circumstances – cruive, haaf net or certificated fixed engine
1(2) Fishing for salmon in the sea other than by rod & line, net & coble or bag net, fly net or other stake net
2 Fishing for freshwater fish in inland waters other than by rod & line
3A Using a rod not held by hand for salmonids (not from a boat)Using more than 4 rods not held by hand for non-salmonids (not from a boat)Using more than 4 rods on a boat to catch fish Inserted by 2007 Act
4 Use of roe, fire or light as a bait or lure; Use of live vertebrates as bait*; foul hooking*; *Inserted by 2007 Act
5 Use of explosives, poisons or electrical devices to take or destroy fish
3 Use of gaffs, & tailers Inserted by 2007 Act
5A Use of pike gags and knotted or metallic mesh keep-nets Inserted by 2007 Act
6 Fishing without written permission or legal right (salmon)
7 Fishing contrary to ss. 1, 2 or 6 of the 2003 Act by two or more persons acting together
8 Removing dead salmon and trout from water
9 Illegal possession of salmon, trout, and articles where there is suspicion that fish have been, or are about to be taken unlawfully Convictable on evidence of a single witness
10 Taking or preventing passage of salmon through a fish pass Convictable on evidence of a single witness
11 Fishing without permission or legal right (stanks & loch owned by one person).
12 & 48 Fishing for brown trout and freshwater fish without legal right or written permission in an area covered by a Protection Order.
13 (2) Fishing for or taking salmon on a Sunday Convictable on evidence of a single witness
13 (3) Fishing for or taking salmon during the weekly close time other than by rod and line Convictable on evidence of a single witness
14 Fishing during the annual close time except as allowed for by byelaw, regulation or licence Convictable on evidence of a single witness
15 Failure to remove boats & nets within 36 hours of start of the  annual close time Convictable on evidence of a single witness
16 Possessing, buying or selling salmon during the period when the annual close time is in force in every salmon fishery district Convictable on evidence of a single witness
17 Fishing for, taking or possessing trout during the annual close time for trout Convictable on evidence of a single witness
18 Fishing for, taking, possess, buy, sell or expose for sale unclean or unseasonable salmon Convictable on evidence of a single witness
19 Possessing, buying, selling or exposing for sale salmon roe Convictable on evidence of a single witness
20 Possessing salmon which have been illegally taken, killed or landed Convictable on evidence of a single witness
21 Consigning salmon or trout in an unmarked package
21 (5) Obstruction of any person authorised under s.21(6) to check unmarked packages (consignment of fish in an unmarked package)
22 Size limit for buying or selling trout (under 20cm)Sale of any trout between 1 Sep-31 March
23(1) Knowingly taking, injuring, destroying, buying, selling or exposing for sale smolts, parr, salmon fry or alevin or use of any device to obstruct the passage of young salmon
23(2) Knowingly injuring or disturbing salmon spawn; or disturbing spawning bed, bank or shallow
23(3) Obstructing the passage of salmon to spawning grounds during the annual close time
25 Use of un-certificated fixed engine in Solway
26 Fishing without legal right or permission for any fish other than salmon in the rivers running into the Solway Firth (excl Annan)
31(1)(d) & (7) Fishing for salmon with net of mesh size less than 90mm (stretched mesh) Also refer to SI 1992/1974 regulation 6
as above Fishing for salmon with a net of twine less than 0.9mm thick As above, regulation 8A
as above Use of monofilament netting in the construction of nets used in fishing for salmon As above, regulation 8
33(A) Introduction of salmon or salmon spawn in inland waters without the consent of a salmon fishery board (or Scottish Ministers where no board exists)Introduction of other live fish or spawn in inland waters without consent of Scottish Ministers Convictable on evidence of a single witness
38(7) Contravention of any salmon conservation regulation Convictable on evidence of a single witness
50(3)(a) Obstruction of a warden in the exercise of their powers under the Act (s. 49 & 50)
50(3)(b) Obstruction of any person appointed by Scottish Ministers under the Act (s. 50(2)) in the exercise of their powers under that subsection
58 Obstruction of a constable or water bailiff in the exercise of their powers under the Act
64 Failure of a proprietor or occupier to provide information or statistics, or to allow access to a fishery for related purposes
The Freshwater Fish Conservation (Prohibition on Fishing for Eels) (Scotland) Regulations 2008
SI 2008 no 419 Fishing for or taking eels except under licence Made under S. 51A of 2003 Act
The Conservation of Salmon (Prohibition of Sale) (Scotland) Regulations 2002
SI 200 no 418 Sale of rod-caught salmon
The Salmon (Fish Passes and Screens) (Scotland) Regulations 1994
SI 1994 No 2524 Failure to comply with regulations on fish passes and screens
The Sea Fish Conservation Act 1967
5 Fishing for salmon from a boat in the sea by drift net or other gill net, trawl net, seine net (other than fishing from the shore by net & coble), troll or long line. Also refer to SI 1973/207, as varied by SI 1983/60
6 Landing of salmon caught in contravention of an order made under the 1967 Act Also refer to SI 1972/1966, as varied by SI 1983/58
The Inshore Fishing (Scotland) Act 1984
1 Fishing for salmon in the sea with any gill net within half a mile of the shore SI 1986/59
2 Carriage of monofilament gill net of mesh size less than 250mm in any British fishing boat Also refer to SI 1996/1907
3 Fishing with trawls or other moving gear within half a mile of a fixed salmon net

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