On 10th Jan the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards issued a News Release calling for ‘zero exploitation of salmon before mid May.’ The board is advocating that no salmon are killed in Scotland either by nets or rods before the 15th May.
Alasdair Laing, Chairman of ASFB states “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.”
The move is, I believe, to be cautiously welcomed. The vast majority of Spring fish are already returned so in practical terms it will not make any difference to Spring fishers. What it does do is present a unanimous voice across all the rivers in Scotland (if adopted) and the importance of this is not to be underestimated. There are of course numerous questions raised, not least in the use of the word exploitation, but I will address these at a later date.
There is no doubt that the statement is linked to the announcement that Scottish netsmen are preparing to resume netting operations in the Spring. As Ian Gordon’s recent petition shows there is overwhelming opposition to this move. Let us hope that Scotland’s politician’s recognise this together with the huge importance of the game fishing industry to Scotland’s rural economy.
I believe it is high time that mixed stock netting is phased out, not just in the Spring but at all times, and the associated interests compensated.