WILD FISHERIES REFORM PROGRAMME SCALED DOWN!

The Scottish Government has today announced that it will not now pursue most of the key elements of the programme of reform which it had proposed to carry out as a result of the independent Wild Fisheries Review in 2014. In particular:

·         The replacement of District Salmon Fishery Boards with new “all species” Fisheries Management Organisations will not go ahead.

·         No attempt will be made to raise new funding for fisheries management and angling development via levies on anglers or the proprietors of freshwater fisheries.

·         The inconsistencies between the criminal and civil offence status of fishing without consent for salmon or for other species will continue, and the existing Protection Order system will remain in place.

SFCA is profoundly disappointed by this unwelcome development. We do not agree with the Scottish Government’s assertion that it will “protect the rights of anglers”. On the contrary, it will do little more than preserve the rights of salmon fishery proprietors

In our view a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a modern, inclusive and properly funded “all species” fisheries management system fit for the twenty-first century is being abandoned in favour of a minor reboot of a nineteenth century model focussed on salmon and dominated by those who own migratory fishing rights.

Perhaps more important, the scope to institute an effective national programme to promote angling, develop anglers’ skills, and encourage participation by young people and new entrants will be severely hampered by the Scottish Government’s refusal to entertain the introduction of new sources of funding to support this among other things.

Nevertheless we will continue to work with Scottish Government officials and other interested parties to do whatever we can to protect and where possible advance the interests of coarse fish and coarse angling in Scotland within the scope of what remains of the WFR process.

In particular, we believe there are still opportunities to introduce or amend legislation in order to provide better protection for non-salmonid fish and fisheries and thus to some extent level the current uneven playing field. We welcome the fact that officials have already been in contact with SFCA on this matter, and we are currently in the process of arranging an early start to relevant discussions with them.

You can read the full text of the Scottish Government’s announcement here http://news.gov.scot/news/wild-fisheries and see their analysis of last year’s public consultation about WFR here http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00493242.pdf .


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