Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill Consultation Document Environmental Report February 2012

This Environmental Report sets out the results of the assessment of the possible environmental effects of provisions in the Aquaculture and Fisheries Bill.


Current Situation

12.1 Scotland is divided into 54 statutory salmon fishery districts for the purpose of salmon fishery management, comprising the natural catchment areas of a specific river or group of rivers. There are currently District Salmon Fishery Boards ( DSFBs) constituted for 42 of these districts. The NASCO Salmon Rivers Database (2011) shows 398 rivers supporting salmon populations within Scotland [58] .

12.2 The management of Atlantic salmon within Scotland sits within a hierarchy of policy and regulatory bodies at international, EU, national and district levels. In Scotland, conservation measures are predominantly voluntary and mainly implemented at the district level by the DSFBs in consultation with local fishery owners and anglers. This local level of management is conducted through a system of local assessment by the respective DSFB and/or fisheries trust, based largely on statistical fishing data provided by proprietors in the rod and net fishing industries.

12.3 There are long-established statutory annual and weekly close times. The Annual Close Time for Atlantic salmon is a continuous period of not less than 168 days (153 in the Tweed district), which prohibits all fishing methods during this time (except where provision is made for periods during which rod and line fishing is permitted). Weekly Close Times prohibit net fishing between 6pm on Friday until 6 am on the following Monday, with no rod and line permitted on Sundays.

12.4 The precise dates of the annual and weekly close times vary between the various Salmon Fishery Districts, but the annual close times generally run from the end of August to mid-February. Angling seasons also vary among districts, with the earliest starts being in mid-January and the latest finishes being at the end of November [59] . As noted in Paragraph 12.3, in addition to the net fishing season, there are periods during the annual close time when fishing by rod and line is permitted.

12.5 The main avenue for Scottish Ministers to implement wild salmonid conservation measures in Scotland is through the promotion of secondary legislation under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003 [60] . At present, under the provisions of the Act, Scottish Ministers can make changes to Annual Close Time Orders for wild salmon fishing, but only when an application is made to them by the DSFB or by two proprietors where there is no district board.

12.6 Since 1952, Marine Scotland Science have collected catch, release and net fishing effort data (number and weight) for wild salmon and sea trout direct from the owners of the rights, and this data is compiled and published as an annual statistical bulletin [61] .


12.7 The proposed provisions include powers for Scottish Ministers regarding salmon management and conservation measures, including: to initiate changes to Annual Close Time Orders; promotion of combined salmon conservation measures; and attaching conditions ( e.g. monitoring and reporting requirements) to statutory conservation measures. They also include powers for Scottish Ministers to require provision of comprehensive effort data ( e.g. catch data)on rod fisheries.

Potential Effects

12.8 Where DSFBs have been established by proprietors, the Board is the authority for initiating Annual Close Time Orders. The proposed powers for Scottish Ministers to promote Annual Close Time Orders for salmon districts are intended to enhance management of wild salmon and improve wild stock numbers, particularly in districts with more fragile salmon populations. The introduction of reserve powers would offer additional options to enhance coordinated management of the wild salmon fisheries.

12.9 Similarly, promotion of combined salmon conservation measures, and the proposed powers for Scottish Ministers to be able to attach conditions such as monitoring and reporting requirements to salmon conservation measures, will likely enhance efforts to conserve wild salmon. This should also enhance a co-ordinated approach to data collection and management of wild salmon. The provision of comprehensive effort (catch) data on rod fisheries will likely result in more data than is presently collected, having the potential for benefits in further informing the decision-making process for the long-term management of wild salmon.


12.10 As no significant negative effects from these provisions have been identified, no mitigation measures are required. Given the high-level nature of the provisions, enhancement measures have not been proposed at this stage of the Bill's development.

Effects of Continuing the Status Quo

12.11 Continuing the current situation could result in the continued perception of limited accountability of DSFBs, or increased risk of unresolved conflicts with DSFBs as local managers, or undermine potential to maximise the benefits of a holistic approach to management. Taken together, these would not have positive implications for biodiversity.


Back to top