WILD FISHERIES REFORM CONSULTATION – TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

In a recent news item we drew attention to the Scottish Government consultation paper published on 8th February which sets out proposals for major changes to Scottish freshwater fisheries legislation, describes the new fisheries management organisations (FMOs) to be created in support of WFR, and puts forward a draft national Wild Fisheries Strategy. You can read the full consultation document at https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/wild-fisheries-reform-team/draft-wild-fisheries-strategy .

SFCA has been actively involved in the WFR process from the start. In this, as with various earlier exercises over many years, our agenda has been simple – we are looking for better protection for coarse fish populations, better access to enable us to fish for them, and a meaningful say in how they are managed.

A detailed examination of the consultation paper shows that the changes it proposes can deliver substantial benefits for coarse angling on all of these objectives.
On legislation, for instance, the Scottish Government says it is their “… policy intention is to take a consistent approach to all offences across all species”, and among other things they plan to remove the present unrestricted right of stillwater proprietors to take coarse fish by nets or traps. We also – subject to concerns over the impact on access – welcome the proposal to introduce a general offence of fishing without legal right or permission for all species in inland waters. In addition there are “enabling” provisions in the draft Bill which would allow for more targeted measures to be subsequently introduced to protect coarse fish of particular species and/or in particular locations.

Although not prescriptive in terms of who participates and in what capacity, the Bill also makes it clear that FMOs should be “… representative of persons who have an interest in the management of wild fisheries in the Area.” and requires them, when preparing local Fisheries Management Plans, to describe “… how the Organisation has involved those appearing to it to have an interest in the management of wild fisheries in the Area in the preparation of the Plan.”. These offer us a valuable and active role in fisheries management.

The consultation paper makes it clear that the draft Bill and National Strategy should still be seen as “work in progress”, with much of the detail yet to be resolved. What we have seen so far is overwhelmingly positive, although we have significant concerns in relation to funding and believe more needs to be done to get the balance right on access, and to flesh out what will be done on issues related to angling participation, promotion and development.

SFCA will be responding in detail to the consultation. It’s vital for that response to reflect the views of the people we are trying to represent. We have therefore prepared an initial draft response, which you can find here: SFCA Draft Response to WFR Consultation, and are now inviting clubs and individual coarse anglers to comment and offer their own suggestions. In order to ensure we have time to make any amendments and submit the final response by the Scottish Government’s deadline of 2nd May (not 8th May as I mistakenly indicated in the previous item) I need to ask you for your comments by 31st March.

I can’t overstate the importance of this exercise for Scottish coarse angling. Please take the time to read the material I’ve mentioned above and comment by email to ron.woods@ntlworld.com, or on the SFCA Facebook page. We need your input and support.

Ron Woods
Policy Officer
26th February 2016

 


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