The Scottish Government’s new proposals to “Ban the Killing of Wild Salmon except under licence and accompanying carcass tagging scheme’ are far reaching and will certainly affect every salmon angler in Scotland one way or another. This follows Andrew Thin’s recommendation following his Wild Fisheries Review last year. The proposals can be found by following this link

Laws regulating the taking/killing of salmon in inland waters have been proposed to make it an offence to kill a salmon without first having a pre purchased tag and using it on the carcass to identify it. The cost of the tagging system has yet to be announced.

Also, and this is bound to find favour with most anglers, the taking of salmon out with inland waters is to be prohibited. That means the mixed stock nets on the East Coast are to go. It doesn’t mean that netting within estuary limits will cease but this will require a carcass tag for each fish killed. The tagging system does not apply to sea trout.
The proposals also mention that the Government expects that applications to kill salmon will be assessed using the best available information. In Ayrshire where there are no counters, I expect that means reported rod catches over the last 5 years. If there aren’t sustainable stocks returning then no licences would be issued. I fear historic under reporting on some rivers is about to have repercussions. If suddenly reporting increases and is more accurate the penalty will of course be increased levies although licences may then be issued. We would hope that the government would want to back up their decision making with evidence based data such as electrofishing results but there is no detail on what data will be used only that it will be the best available.
The Government have launched a forum (for the next week only) to take comments and hear anglers views on this and other proposals and I’d encourage everyone to have a look at this and take part. It’s a real pity that this hasn’t been available throughout the consultation process as it is generating some very good ideas but seems to have come a bit late in the day.