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The independent Review of the management of wild freshwater fisheries commissioned by the Scottish Government at the beginning of this year has now concluded with the publication of a detailed Report containing no fewer than 53 specific recommendations.

You can view the full Report and a summary of the recommendations clicking the link below:

The core thrust of the Report centres around proposals to replace the existing fragmented and inconsistent management structures for wild fisheries (which focus almost entirely on migratory salmonids and are dominated by District Salmon Fishery Boards) with a more coherent system that addresses the needs of all freshwater fish species and contains clear lines of strategic accountability to a new National Wild Fisheries Unit that would be created within the Scottish Government. There are other significant recommendations to do with funding, enforcement and – especially important – the development of a comprehensive “Angling for All” programme to encourage participation and promote angling opportunities.

The Review has been a highly participative process involving stakeholders from all parts of the angling, fishery ownership and fisheries management communities. SFCA, along with representatives of several member clubs (many thanks to the individuals concerned!), played a very active role both by contributing to meetings with the Review team and lodging written comments and submissions. It is apparent that they listened to what we had to say, and while there are some issues – especially in connection with the need for greater protection for coarse fish stocks – on which we would have wished to see a more positive steer from the Review, we very much welcome the Report as a major step in the right direction. If its recommendations are accepted by Scottish Ministers the new systems and structures that emerge will offer unprecedented opportunities for coarse angling interests to play a full and influential part in wild fisheries management at all levels. After that, it will be up to us to fight our corner.

The production of this Report is not the end of the process – merely (to misquote Churchill) the end of the beginning. As we currently understand it, the next step will be for Scottish Ministers to publish a response to the Report, indicating which recommendations they intend to take forward and probably also inviting representations from stakeholders on some of the matters concerned. Thereafter we can expect to see a new Bill being put to the Scottish Parliament in order to implement those items which require changes to primary legislation.

At the moment we have no information on the timescale for these activities but we believe things will start to move in the next few weeks and run on well into next year. Needless to say we will update the SFCA website as and when information becomes available.

Ron Woods, SFCA Policy Officer, October 2014


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