The enforcement of the law relating to salmon and freshwater fishing in Scotland is facilitated by the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003. The Act consolidates the previously existing Acts into a single document for ease of reference.
Bailiffs are appointed by Scottish Ministers (usually where no District Salmon Fishery Board [DSFB] exists to appoint them) to exercise the powers conferred by the 2003 Act to prevent the illegal taking of salmon or trout. Powers extend only to the waters in respect of the fishery district within which they are appointed, but not to any adjoining districts.
Before being appointed, candidates must provide the Scottish Government with a disclosure of unspent criminal history (available on request from the Scottish Criminal Records Office, tel. 0141 585 8495). Water bailiffs who meet the criteria for appointment are issued with a warrant card, the production of which is sufficient authority for the exercise of their powers. All bailiffs must undergo training provided by the Institute of Fisheries Management.
Water bailiffs appointed by Scottish Ministers may:
- Examine any dam, fixed engine or obstruction, or any lade, and for that purpose enter on any land
- Stop and search any boat which is used in fishing or any boat which there is reasonable cause to suspect of containing salmon or trout
- Search and examine nets or other instruments used in fishing or any basket, pocket or other receptacle capable of carrying fish, which there is reasonable cause to suspect of containing salmon or trout illegally taken
- Seize any fish, instrument or article, boat or vehicle liable to be forfeited in pursuance of the 2003 Act
- Arrest any person found committing salmon fishery offences.
Disctrict Salmon Fishery Boards (DSFB) Bailiffs
Bailiffs appointed by DSFBs have similar powers of entry, search, seizure and arrest. However, their powers extend to adjoining salmon fishery districts as well as to the one in which they are appointed.
It is an offence for any person to obstruct a water bailiff in the exercise of their powers.
Scottish Ministers may appoint water wardens in order to enforce the provisions of Protection Orders. Again, candidates must provide a disclosure of unspent criminal history and those who meet the criteria for appointment are issued with a warrant card. Wardens may enquire of any person as to their legal right or written permission to fish in any waters covered by the Protection Order, and where a warden has reasonable cause to suspect a person does not have legal right or written permission, he may request written evidence to the contrary to be produced within 14 days. A warden has the right to enter any land in the vicinity of waters covered by the Protection Order for the purposes of exercising his powers. It is an offence to wilfully obstruct a warden to exercise the powers conferred upon them.
Due to the limited nature of the powers of a warden, the police have an active role in assisting the enforcement of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003.
Recreational fishing for bass
Information on catch limits in the North Sea and western waters.
For more information on enforcement please navigate to the Scottish Government’s policy page on marine and fisheries compliance.