Salmon Fishing Proposed River Gradings for 2024 Season: Island Communities Impact Assessment

An island communities impact assessment (ICIA) to consider the impact of the Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023.

Step One – Understanding the objectives

Questions addressed:

  • What are the objectives of the policy, strategy or service?
  • Do you need to consult?
  • How are islands identified for the purpose of the policy, strategy or service?
  • What are the intended impacts/outcomes and how do these potentially differ in the islands?
  • Is the policy, strategy or service new?

The Conservation of Salmon (Scotland) Regulations 2016 outlined for the first time a system, under which, the killing of Atlantic salmon in inland waters is managed on an annual basis by categorising the conservation status of their stocks. The aim of the legislation is to protect and restore Scottish wild Atlantic salmon populations in areas were exploitation is unsustainable.

In general terms, the regulations:

  • prohibit the retention of salmon caught in coastal waters
  • permit the killing of salmon within inland waters where stocks are above a defined conservation limit
  • require mandatory catch and release of salmon in areas that are deemed to be in poor conservation status

The conservation of stocks is re-assessed each year and we consult annually on proposals for the following fishing season. After the consultation has concluded and evidence has been reviewed, the regulations are amended accordingly.

The conservation status of stocks is assessed on a river by river basis, except for those areas where fishery catch cannot be assigned to individual rivers. In such cases rivers are combined to form assessment groups. The annual assessment process is explained in the conserving our salmon video.

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 are allocated to one of three grades, each with its own recommended management actions:

Category 1

At least 80% probability of meeting the conservation limit. Exploitation is sustainable therefore no additional management action is currently required. This recognises the effectiveness of existing non-statutory local management interventions.

Category 2

Between 60-80% probability of meeting the conservation limit. Management action is necessary to reduce exploitation. Catch and release should be promoted strongly in the first instance. The need for mandatory catch and release will be reviewed annually.

Category 3

Less than 60% probability of meeting the conservation limit. Exploitation is unsustainable therefore management action, including mandatory catch and release (for all methods), is required to reduce exploitation.

The approach taken for the annual assessment does not differ between mainland Scotland and Scottish islands, or between islands. Only the right to retain (catch and kill) a salmon is prescribed by the legislation. All those with the appropriate permissions are still able to practice fishing for salmon in Category 3 areas providing they return any salmon caught at once with the least possible injury (catch and release).



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