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Conservation Measures to Control the Killing of Wild Salmon - 2017 Assessment

Measures to regulate the killing of salmon for the 2017 season have been laid in the Scottish Parliament – The Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Amendment Regulations and The Tweed Regulation (Salmon Conservation) (No. 2) Order 2016.  Moving from the district approach in 2016, the new regulations have looked to progress conservation status, where rod catches and counter data have allowed, on an individual river or groups of river basis. 

Key aspects of the regulations for the 2017 fishing season are:

  • the prohibition on the retention of salmon caught in coastal waters remains in place due to the mixed stock nature of the fishery and limited data on the compostition of the catch (this will reviewed in 2018)

  • killing of salmon within inland waters is permitted where stocks are above a defined conservation limit

  • mandatory catch and release is introduced in areasrivers which fall below their defined conservation limit

  • the completion of a Conservation Plan for all areas that have been assessed

Carcass tagging for net-caught fish for areas in categories 1 and 2 (including the Tweed District) continues. Further information on the detail of the scheme can be found in the guidance note).  We have carried out a review of the operation of the first year of the carcass tagging scheme and are considering next steps. 


The conservation status of each stock is defined by the probability of the stock meeting its conservation limit over a five-year period. Rather than a simple pass or fail, stocks have been allocated to one of the following three grades, each with its own recommended management actions: 

Probability of Meeting CL
Effectively CL Met in:
At least 80%
4 out of 5 years
Exploitation is sustainable therefore no additional management action is currently required. This recognises the effectiveness of existing non-statutory local management interventions.
3 out of 5 years
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.
Less than 60%

≤ 2 out of 5 years

Exploitation is unsustainable therefore management actions required to reduce exploitation for 1 year i.e. mandatory catch and release (all methods). 

It is recognised that fisheries may not be the only driver of change in salmon stocks, nor will a reduction in exploitation on its own necessarily lead to Conservation Limits (CLs) being attained quickly. However, it is clear that when stocks are below their conservation limit, reducing exploitation by fisheries will help towards CLs being met in the future.

Key points to note about the gradings for 2017 are:

  • if the removal of the loch area from the assessment model led to a stock moving from a grade 3 to a higher grade, then the final grading used to classify the stock was a grade 2 (movement into grade 1 was not considered appropriate due to the remaining uncertainty over the distribution of salmon within lochs).
  • where rod catch and counter data allowed, individual rivers or groups of rivers have been assessed separately from the fishery district areas assessed in 2016. These rivers or groups of river have been graded and all remaining inland waters within the fishery district have been assessed grade 3 areas.
  • in recognition of the uncertainties around estimating stock levels where catches are low, the maximum grade which can be obtained where the mean annual catch is less than 20 salmon is grade 2.

Further Work

Further consideration continues to be given to:

  • the use of baits and lures (through an established working group) - Baits and Lures Working Group has now completed its work and the recommendations are here
  • research with coastal and in-river fisheries to improve current understanding of mixed stock fisheries (options currently being considered)
  • the assessment of sea trout stocks to inform a decision on whether conservation measures may be necessary in the future
  • the predation of salmon in coastal areas

This is in addition to on-going work on potential interactions between wild salmon and aquaculture, and marine renewables, and coastal migratory behaviour of salmon.