Salmon fishing: proposed river gradings for 2024 season

Seeking your views on the proposed river gradings for the 2024 salmon fishing season.

Background to the assessment

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 is explained in our 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 one

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 two

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 three

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.

Best practice for catch and release angling

The chances of survival of a released fish depend on how it has been handled. If fish are handled properly then they will have the greatest chance of going onto spawn. Catch and release is one of the most effective ways in which anglers contribute to the future of their sport. 

Summary of catch and release best practice

  • use appropriate tackle, play fish quickly and use a knotless nylon net
  • keep the fish in the water as much as possible
  • handle the fish as carefully as possible
  • support the fish facing into the current until it has recovered, then let it go

This guidance (PDF) we published has more practical advice and information about catch and release best practice. 

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