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Protect Our Fisheries – Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Disease

Scotland has a wealth of water bodies and waterways that play host to a variety of plants and animals (including fish).  These in turn help to support a diversity of birds and other wildlife throughout the seasons.

As anglers our sport depends on these complex and often delicately balanced aquatic environments to sustain a healthy population of fish for us to catch.  Invasive aquatic species can have a devastating impact on Scottish plants and animals, they have the potential to alter the balance of an ecosystem as they often grow faster or are more aggressive than our native species. Invasive aquatic species also have the potential to render waterways unusable for fishing, for example invasive plants can choke waters, reducing flow and oxygen levels and even deny access to the water’s edge while the American Signal crayfish can destroy fish eggs and fry and ruin decent fisheries by homing in and feeding on anglers baits.

Animals, plant fragments, eggs and larvae are easily transported from one place to another on boats, equipment, shoes, clothing and other damp places where they can survive for days, if not weeks.  But it is not only invasive non-native plants and animals that can be transported from one water body to another.  Parasites and disease are also easily transported particularly if the conditions are favourable.  Anglers’ nets, particularly keepnets, present one of the most significant risks and the SFCA strongly urges all anglers to adopt the following code of practice to protect the future of our fisheries.

DO follow the Scottish Government’s ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ code

In particular:

DON’T use keepnets to retain fish unless absolutely necessary.

DON’T leave your nets in a stink bag between fishing trips.

DO ensure that you lay out your keepnet and landing net and ensure that they have the chance to dry out completely between uses.

NEVER move fish from one water body to another without statutory consent.

DO spread this message and encourage others to adopt this code.

By carrying out these simple steps when you leave the water and when you get home you can help to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and disease and keep our fisheries and fish healthy.  For more information visit


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