Paul Wheelhouse MSP has announced consultations to protect early-running spring salmon on rivers including the Tweed.
The Environment and Climate Change Minister reported that the Scottish Government will soon be discussing options designed to take proactive action to protect the early-running spring salmon that are at particularly low levels across Scotland.
In response to a written PQ from Rob Gibson MSP, Mr Wheelhouse said that he intended to consult on statutory conservation measures, to be effective for commencement in 2015, requiring mandatory catch and release until April 1, together with a delay in the start of the net fishing season.
The conservation measure would be for an initial five year period at which point it would be reviewed.
Mr Wheelhouse added: “The Government intends to consult on measures to replace and enhance good practice currently operated by many responsible anglers and netsmen across Scotland including those in the River Tweed.
“As part of that exercise, we will want to understand any potential wider implications and also build that into our consideration around next steps.
“Within Scotland, the River Tweed is a very important salmon fishery and it contributes significantly to the local economy.
“The upcoming consultation looks to protect the vulnerable spring stocks to ensure the Tweed, and every other salmon river in Scotland, can maintain and hopefully improve their fisheries well into the future.
“The Scottish Government places a high value on conservation of our wild Scottish salmon and other wild fish stocks
“While I recognise the tremendous contribution that catch and release and the voluntary cessation of netting have had in previous seasons, I think more can be done to provide certainty about the protection of spring stocks. I will therefore consult on statutory measures to replace and enhance the voluntary practices from previous years across Scotland, for a defined period.
“I am very conscious that the Independent Review of Wild Fisheries will report in October 2014 and I will need time to consider the recommendations made, and to consult further on firm policy propositions in due course.
“However, I have taken the view that the protection of the spring stocks cannot wait for that work to be completed, and I want to make clear our future intentions as regards this specific issue of concern.
“This announcement underlines the commitment of the Scottish Government to managing and protecting Scotland’s fisheries in general, and in this instance, salmon in particular.”