As the new salmon fishing season begins on many northern rivers, the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) is reminding anglers that it is now a legal requirement that all salmon caught before April are released back into the water. It is now illegal to kill a salmon between January and March.
This follows the Scottish Government’s Conservation Order to protect early-running spring salmon through mandatory catch and release, which became law on 9 January. See http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/marine/Salmon-Trout-Coarse/game/conservationreg
Northern rivers opening this week include the Moriston on 15 January, Kyle rivers (Carron, Oykel, Cassley, Shin) on 12 January, Helmsdale on 12 January, Thurso on 12 January, Halladale on 12 January, Naver on 12 January and Borgie on 12 January.
Dr Alan Wells, Policy and Planning Director of ASFB, said: “The start of a new season is typically associated with a sense of optimism. Indeed, after two difficult seasons with disappointing catches, we hope that 2015 will be a much better year for salmon angling. The numbers of spring salmon in particular have declined significantly in recent years and we welcome the Scottish Government’s move to give added protection to the most vulnerable and depleted stocks – those that enter our rivers in the early weeks. Obviously it is important that all anglers abide by the new Conservation Order and release all salmon caught before the end of March.”
Dr Wells continued: “Whilst the statutory requirement to return any fish caught is to the end of March, from April onwards we would strongly encourage anglers to adhere closely to the recommendations and guidelines of local fishery boards and carefully release as many salmon as possible. Furthermore, when practising catch and release, we recommend that anglers follow the guidance published on our website, including the use of barbless hooks, in order to facilitate easy unhooking.”
Full guidance on catch and release is available on the ASFB website at https://www.fms.scot/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/CR-2013.pdf
Dr Keith Williams, Director of Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries, added: “Anglers fishing before April should appreciate that by law they must now release or return all fish to the water, even if the fish is either damaged or dead. It is worth noting that on the Kyle rivers we already have a voluntary code in place until mid June which has resulted in around 98-99 per cent of salmon released until that point.”