It is internationally recognised that mixed stock fisheries present particular difficulties for management and species conservation. Dr Alan Wells, Policy and Planning Director for ASFB, explained: “DSFBs are duty bound to implement conservation action during any period that stock analysis indicates that management intervention to protect stocks from inappropriate levels of exploitation is necessary. In this context we would also urge all netting interests to engage with their local DSFB to develop and implement local agreements continuing the significant support that has been shown by both netsmen and anglers to protect vulnerable early running salmon”.
Nick Yonge, 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”.
The Scottish Government has announced a major review of fisheries management in Scotland and the Minister for Environment and Climate Change has specifically indicated that the management of coastal netting will be considered as part of the review. Dr Wells commented: “We welcome this undertaking and hope that issues of salmon conservation, equitable financial contribution to management by those who exploit salmon and management of close times are fully resolved. On the issue of dormant netting stations coming back into use, we would wish to ensure that de-commissioned sites remain de-commissioned.”
Commenting on the ASFB move on exploitation, Andrew Wallace, Chairman of the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, said: “This is an excellent, proactive move by the ASFB aimed at conserving what is universally acknowledged to be a stock of fish under considerable pressure at present. By reducing all lethal exploitation on spring stocks before May 15 (both rods and nets) Scotland can claim to be taking its salmon conservation obligations seriously both in domestic and international fora”.