The policy is being phased in over the period from January 2016 to January 2020. Full details are available on the Government’s web page at

Key points to note are:

5 a)    Introductions of salmon, sea trout and brown trout:

  • Introduction of salmon, sea trout and fertile brown trout into open Scottish inland waters may only be of local origin fish from the same river and in the case of large rivers, from the same sub-catchment, or forms part of a properly researched re-introduction programme.
  • Female non-fertile brown trout (triploid) may also be stocked into open Scottish inland waters where the species is already native or naturalised.


The policy where it applies to brown/sea trout will be phased in over the period 1st January 2016 to 1st January 2020.

5 b)      Introductions above impassable natural barriers:

  • Areas above and below will be treated as separate catchments (i.e. 5 a).
  • Atlantic salmon may be introduced above natural impassable barriers/falls provided the brood-fish, or their progeny, are sourced from as close to the barrier/falls as possible (such introductions are subject to SNH licencing*)

*Stocking of salmon and sea trout above impassable natural barriers will be considered as an introduction of fish out-with their native range. Therefore, any consent issued is subject to SNH’s policy position on the release of fish out-with their native range and the issue of a licence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act

5 d)     Applications to stock rainbow trout into Scottish inland waters.

  • Introduction of rainbow trout into all but totally enclosed waters will only be approved provided:
  • All female triploid stock is used.
  • The introduction is to stillwaters only.
  • The activity is determined by MS as likely to have minimal detrimental effect on native fish.


The policy regarding triploid rainbow trout will be phased in over the period 1st January 2016 to 1st January 2020. The table below lays out the implementation dates which will apply, depending on the type of water and stocking history

Type of water Stocking history[1] Implementation date Arrangements until implementation date
Open still-waters Not stocked since 2008 1 January 2016 Stocking with fertile (diploid) rainbow trout will continue to be permissible until the stated implementation date, subject to assessment by Marine Scotland Science.
Stocked since 2008 1 January 2020

Stocking history will be determined by introductions recorded and/or consented by Marine Scotland since August 2008.

[1] Diploid rainbow trout

5 e)    Introductions of coarse fish and for those species considered to be out-with their native range (with the exception of rainbow trout see paragraph 5 d):

  • Consent will not be issued for introductions of coarse fish or for species out-with their native range that will lead to their wider distribution in open waters in Scotland.
  • For introduction to a catchment where there is no existing self-sustaining population of the species but the species are capable of forming self-sustaining populations, only bodies of water that are sufficiently screened to prevent escape of all lifecycle stages of the introduced fish or are isolated from all watercourses and danger of flooding will be eligible to be issued introductions consent.
  • For species which are not capable of forming self-sustaining populations in Scottish waters, to be eligible for introductions consent, screening must contain all stocked fish and the site must not be liable to flooding.
  • Consent will not be issued for species that pose a threat to native flora or fauna within the body of water e.g. by predation or habitat modification.
  • In the event that SNH refuse to licence either the release or keeping of a non-native species an MS licence to introduce fish will not be issued as such a licence would not be competent.


Full details of the policy paper can be found by following the link at the top of this post.

Share →

6 Responses to New Government Policy on stocking rivers and lochs announced

  1. Martin says:

    Is this policy to become law? I’m not clear in detail about what are the current regulations, but would be interested to know how much this new policy differs from what is currently in place? I can see the policy is aiming to protect genetic identity of localised native populations, but the impact of introducing / stocking fish above the carrying capacity of any environment is in itself damaging to the wild fish population, even if these introduced fish are non-breeding.

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      Effectively it will become law as a licence is required to stock in all cases and the issues of licences will be in accordance with this policy. Anyone introducing fish anywhere without the appropriate licence or in breech of the terms of a licence will be committing an offence and could be prosecuted.
      The policy is an attempt to protect native populations as you rightly state, Martin and again you are correct with your comments on over-stocking. When deciding licence applications, Marine Scotland will take these factors into account and in many cases will seek opinion from the local Trust (or the local Fishery Management Organisation once these are appointed). Currently, MS issue licences with restrictions on the species, number and size of fish stocked but this hasn’t always been adhered to. The new Policy appears to indicate that the decision making process will be much more evidence based and if this is the case, then I expect Clubs and others that stock their waters may struggle to provide the necessary justification for a licence to be issued. Time will tell, but in our opinion, this change in policy was overdue and we welcome it.

  2. Martin says:

    That’s good then – it seems to be step forward. Just another question – what would be the purpose to introduce migratory species above natural barriers (5b), when over time adults would not be able to return upstream to breed, due to the barrier?

    • Stuart Brabbs says:

      Well Martin, there are areas upstream of barriers that are underutilised by fish so there may be justification in stocking with salmon. As long as the barrier is passable in a downstream direction and the broodstock were sourced as close to the barrier as possible, then the fish return and boost stocks downstream of the barrier. As long as there isn’t a significant impact on any other fish such as resident trout then it may be beneficial to stock salmon in such a case. Also, in some cases, barriers may be impassable at most flows but not all. Consequently in some seasons, upstream areas don’t get stocked naturally as the flows don’t match fish needs at the time required. Therefore, it may be sensible to stock suitably sourced and reared fish in such circumstances, however as always, it is best to allow salmon and trout to reproduce naturally as the progeny are fitter and have better survival and reproductive success than hatchery reared fish. We wouldn’t advocate stocking with hatchery reared fish above impassable barriers unless there was very good reason to do so. We would favour translocation of naturally produced juvenile salmon from well populated areas immediately downstream of the barrier to upstream as this shouldn’t impact on productivity and natural production is maintained. Again this type of stocking needs to be licenced and must be carefully managed so it doesn’t impact on the downstream area.

      • Random22 says:

        Not to mention that even natural barriers can abate or become passable in the life time of a fish. What is impassable in the year of stocking might not be in five or more years when the fish returns. Why bet against the future?

        • Martin says:

          Thanks. I suppose it is all about good decisions being taken, based on good advice that is in the interest of the environment and native populations, when licences are being issued.