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ERFT RESPONSE TO THE WILD FISHERIES REVIEW

Introduction:

Since its relatively recent set up in 2009 the Esks Rivers and Fisheries Trust has concentrated its efforts on delivering projects on the ground. While our primary objective has been the improvement of local fisheries and conservation of the fish that swim in them, these projects have also delivered major gains for the wider environment. Whatever local management structure this review chooses to recommend, it is imperative that this ability to attract funding, implement and then manage these types projects is at the very least maintained and hopefully enhanced.

This Review represents a major opportunity to place Scottish Fisheries Management at the forefront of international management systems. In addition, it must support the five strategic objectives which underpins the purpose of Scottish Governance, namely: a Scotland that is Wealthier and Fairer, Smarter, Healthier, Safer and Stronger and Greener.

Biodiversity plays an essential role in meeting the Scottish Government’s vision of a smart, sustainable and successful Scotland, and lies at the heart of our economic strategy. We need to move further in aligning policies across a wide range of areas concerned with biodiversity. New international targets place an equal status on the prevention of the loss of species and the preservation of the benefits from nature (which are referred to as ‘ecosystem services’). Consideration of ecosystem services must be part of how we plan all policies that impact on the natural environment.

 

Freshwater fisheries are major national assets to Scotland’s economy. However, other economically and socially valuable land uses and development impinge on their environmental status. Therefore management policies must be developed in harmony with Government’s, rural and environmental policies. Fishery planning cannot be considered in isolation but should be part of an overarching approach to implementing economically sustainable and environmental policy embracing climate change, renewable energy, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, tourism, flood control, education, and conservation for the long-term benefit of the Scottish people. Such activities are not only under the authority of national government but have an important European dimension.

Central Leadership and Governance

  • Leadership Requires:

  • Coordination of all-species fisheries management with rural and environmental polices to support Scottish Government strategic objectives

  • The inclusion of MSS, SEPA and SNH in addition to Rural Development policy makers

  • A national research policy to support the development of local management initiatives

  • A budget to support:

  • Local Fishery Management Organisations (LFMOs)

  • Research in the national interest to develop fishery management

  • Specific project funds akin to the Water Environment Fund

  • Central administration

  • Funding system from beneficiaries both direct and indirect(reflecting the public interest)

  • Governance Requires:

  • Management of sustainable exploitation – through quotas enforce by numbered tags for both anglers and netsmen.

  • It is considered vital that a monitoring system is included which permits checking salmon at the point of dispatch or arrival for tagging compliance

  • In terms of the weekly close time, it is considered essential that this is maintained in respect of both the net and coble and fixed engine fishery. Under a quota system there will be a tendency to increase netting effort to ensure a quota is reached thus placing additional strain on a weak stock component. Apart from the interests of angling, there are strong genetic arguments, recognised by the Habitats Directive, to allow uninterrupted passage of salmon through a weekly close time.

  • Compliance with both national and international obligations

  • Ability to “licence” and fund a bailiffing system operated locally

  • Accountability of LFMOs through monitoring and assessment of their performance

ERFT Recommendations:

  1. In view of the wide spectrum of interests which impinge on the aquatic environment it is recommended that the central organisation be founded within SNH. Of all the organisations considered, it has the widest experience in resource management and conservation. SNH has until recently the experience of administering local area offices throughout Scotland. Furthermore, SNH are the competent authority for Natura 2000 sites.

  2. Funding should support conservation objectives and fragile stocks should be discouraged from being exploited. A high cost for numbered tags at less sensitive periods of the year should be deployed to discourage exploitation of fragile stocks

  3. A weekend closetime applied to netting is a fundamental requirement to ensure the conservation and biodiversity of potential spawning stocks

  4. The conservation of sea trout stocks should be managed with similar procedures to those proposed for salmon.

  5. Urgent research required to develop quotas by river and stock

  6. Consider whether part of the quota might be offered to the highest bidder e.g netsmen, LFMOs or angling proprietors

Local Fisheries Management Organisations (LFMO)

General requirements of LFMOs:

  • comprise of individuals with appropriate experience and representative of all the significant local interest groups – Proprietors, Angling Clubs, Netsmen, Farmers, Local Councils, SNH, SEPA, MSS(where there is a local presence), Wildlife Crime officer, Tourist Officer and any other relevant local organisation e.g Scottish Wildlife Trust

  • strong local buy-in and charitable status

  • critical mass to address the basic fishery management needs of the area – conservation, stock monitoring, habitat improvement, input into planning issues, education, promotion of angling and ecotourism

  • a project focus to improve the natural environment with a foundation on ecosystem services

  • operationally based on a fishery plan approved both locally and nationally

  • funding to implement basic fishery management requirements (project funding would be sourced separately by the LFMO)

ERFT Recommendations:

  1. In view of the importance of securing strong local support, funding should be set and collected centrally

  2. Rod licences are very unpopular and may well deter anglers who consider that they already pay a reasonable fee to fish. In addition the policing of such a system may well negate any financial benefit

  3. Additional funding should be provided by Government to reflect the importance of general public interest and public benefits from fisheries management – this would obviate the need for rod licences and provide funding for non-salmonid fish species

  4. Funding must encompass other species such as brown trout (wild trout fisheries offer a huge potential), coarse fish and other species which contribute to the biodiversity of the environment

  5. All local project delivery should be undertaken by the LFMO

  6. All relevant licenced data held by MSS, SNH and SEPA should be made available to the LFMOs