Tweed salmon tagging scheme to foil poachers

LIFE is to be made harder for would-be poachers on the Tweed with the adoption of a new scheme designed to crack down on any foul play.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th February 2010, 10:47 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2010, 10:47 am

Every salmon and sea trout caught by anglers on the river is to be tagged from now on in a bid to tackle what Nick Yonge, Clerk to the River Tweed Commission, has described as a "small but persistant problem".

A mandatory carcass tagging scheme has been operating in England and Wales for the past 12 months and as a cross border river, the River Tweed Commission felt it was appropriate and beneficial for the Tweed to operate a similar scheme so that the origin of Tweed salmon and sea-trout is as identifiable as fish caught south of the border.

The new blue tags will assist merchants and netsmen alike to ascribe traceability to fish in the river, enabling origin and date of capture to be recorded.

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Whilst initially the scheme will be voluntary, there are clear indications that it may well become a legal requirement in due course.

Along with a ban on the sale of rod-caught salmon and sea-trout, Nick said he hoped the programme would help in the battle against illegal salmon and sea-trout fishing.

He commented: "Together with the existing ban on the sale of rod-caught salmon and sea-trout, this scheme will assist in preventing illegally caught salmon and sea-trout from reaching the market.

"Because only fish taken in legally authorised netting operations may be sold, and because fish caught by these legal nets will carry carcass-tags, it will be much more difficult to dispose of illegally caught fish.

Nick said as well as trying to combat poaching on the Tweed, the new tagging scheme would have massive advantages for both legal netsmen and consumers.

He continued: "Poaching continues to be a problem, particularly at the lower end of the Tweed and I don't think poachers will ever stop trying but they need to be sure that they will feel the force of the law as they are committing a criminal offence.

"The pioneering tagging scheme will identify Tweed fish in the market and give assurance to buyers that the fish are of true origin and have indeed been taken legally.

"Merchants, fishmongers and those in the catering industry are key to the success of these measures. The tag guarantees that the purchaser is buying a genuine, wild fish from the Tweed District."

Logbooks and tags will be issued to both coastal and in river nets, as appropriate, in due course and River Tweed Commissioners will be inspecting fisheries and merchants regularly to ensure fish are being tagged and recorded correctly.

To date, the Tweed tagging scheme is the only one of its kind north of the Border, and the Commission will be liasing with the Environment Agency and markets to monitor its effectiveness.