A step closer to new salmon fisheries law

The River Tweed, Hoe Bridge, Gattonside.
The River Tweed, Hoe Bridge, Gattonside.

The Bill that could change the future role of the Tweed Commissioners now just requires Royal Assent to become law.

Openness, transparency and accountability of salmon fishery boards such as the Tweed Commissioners is one of the aims of the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill which last week passed through Stage 3 of the Parliamentary process.

There will also be demands on salmon fisheries to improve their data collection and information gathering, and Ministers will have access to the full range of management measures of salmon fishery boards.

Speaking after the debate, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Wheelhouse, from Ayton, said: “I believe we have delivered a Bill which is proportionate and balanced and the product of significant stakeholder engagement. It enhances the existing regulatory framework to provide the safeguards we would all expect to ensure sustainable economic growth.

“These sectors – aquaculture (production and processing), game and coarse angling - are worth over £700 million with the potential to breach the £1 billion mark in the future. They employ some 8,000 people across Scotland, helping to underpin many of our rural communities.”

The River Tweed Commissioners agreed that there are “many positive proposals” for fisheries management in the Bill but don’t support all the measures proposed.

Their view is that: The River Tweed Commission is unique and does not need changes to its structure and method of operation; that fairness and transparency is best achieved through a non-statutory code of conduct, and that as a body they already act openly; and they should continue to be involved in changing close times for fishing and conservation measures.