Tweed authority hopes to net result in fisheries review

Nick Yonge
Nick Yonge

A Scottish Government review of fisheries management announced last week has been welcomed by the River Tweed Commission (RTC).

Outgoing chairman of Scottish Natural heritage, Andrew Thin, will chair the study which is expected to take around six months.

RTC clerk Nick Yonge welcomed the move as good news.

Meanwhile, an online petition to reverse the Salmon Net Fishing Association of Scotland’s (SNFAS) decision to resume net fishing at the start of the season in mid-February, rather than delay six weeks as customary, has attracted more than 15,000 signatures so far.

For the last 14 years, salmon net fishermen have held off until April to protect early running fish.

Mr Yonge said: “Numbers of returning (salmon) adults are so low that some spring stocks 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. There are no surplus spring fish that can be taken without compromising the sustainability to these of salmon stocks: none should be killed.

“The coastal nets in the Tweed District, however, are not members of SNFAS and already fish from the beginning of the season; so SNFAS’ decision does not affect the Tweed.

But he is hopeful about the impending review: “The environment minister (Berwickshire-based Paul Wheelhouse) has specifically indicated that the management of coastal netting will be considered as part of the (wild fisheries) review. This is most welcome and it is hoped that these issues of salmon conservation are fully resolved.”

Currently, nets in the Tweed district are allowed to operate from Februrary 15 by the Tweed Regulation Order, which is under the jurisdiction of Scottish Ministers.

Tweed salmon numbers are also affected by drift and beach (T&J) net fisheries in the north east of England, with scientists saying 70 to 75 per cent of the salmon caught in that area’s drift net fishery and 35-50 percent of those caught in the T&J nets are of Scottish origin.