Scottish Government this morning announced a revised package of reforms for the killing of wild salmon in Scotland. Details can be found by following this link:

The main contents are summarised below:

Key aspects of the regulations will be:

  • Killing outwith estuary limits will be prohibited for a period of three years due to the mixed stock nature of the fishery and the limited data on the stock composition of the catch. This will be reviewed after three years.
  • The killing of Atlantic salmon will be managed on an annual basis by categorising fishery districts (using the 109 fishery districts used for the catch stats/Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in relation to their conservation status and with accompanying guidance and/or regulation.

The only significant change to previous proposals will now be the requirement for a Conservation Plan irrespective of the conservation status.


In response to concerns over the impact that mandatory catch and release may have on Category 3 rivers (Ayr, Irvine and Garnock in Ayrshire) the Government has stated the following:

”Some angling clubs are concerned that the impact of the category 3 designation will be so significant that they may cease to operate in the future or see a significant reduction in their existing membership. There has also been considerable discussion as to the wider impact of the measure, including the impact on local tourism.. Whilst recognising the potential risk, it should be remembered that current catch and release averages are over 90% for spring fish and over 80% for the annual catch. The trend over many years is towards catch and release becoming the norm rather than the exceptional practice. While these measure will make it a statutory requirement in some fishery districts it should also be remembered that this will be based on an annual assessment and as such is designed to enable improved conservation status, which has greater long term benefit to all those who have an interest in Atlantic salmon.”


To summarise this latest information, in category 3 rivers (Ayr, Irvine and Garnock), the killing of wild salmon will be prohibited with immediate effect. In Category 2 rivers (Girvan and Stinchar), Management action is necessary to reduce exploitation; mandatory catch and release will not be required in the first instance, but this will be reviewed annually. In category 1 rivers (Doon) based on the information provided, exploitation is sustainable therefore no additional management action is currently required. This recognises the effectiveness of existing non-statutory local management interventions.

On all rivers, a Conservation Plan will be required regardless of their status.