The announcement by the Scottish Government that they will look again at the proposal made in the Wild Fisheries Review to ban taking salmon without a licence, will come as a relief for the owners and managers of salmon beats on the River Tweed.
Data shows that two thirds of salmon caught during the summer and autumn are already voluntarily returned to the water, and there was concern that visiting fishermen would look elsewhere if there were further controls placed on the sport, which contributes substantial revenue in the Borders and Northumberland.
Ewan Harris a rural specialist with Savills Smiths—Gore, based in Wooler said: “The sport of fishing is fundamental to the tourist industry in the Borders and Northumberland and it is encouraging to see that, as a result of full consultation, the Scottish Government will look again at this issue.”
The proposal was criticised by many, including the River Tweed Commission and Tweed Foundation who highlighted the lack of scientific justification of the measures which they considered would hinder rather than help the protection of salmon stocks. The proposals centred on the use of historic catch records to set quotas for licences. Both the licence and quota scheme would have been funded by fishery owners and ultimately local and visiting fishermen.
It is now proposed that where the conservation status of salmon stocks are good, there will be no measures of control, allowing rods to continue their good practice. There will however be measures introduced to limit or even prohibit the killing of salmon where stocks are low.