5. Wild Salmonids Recommendations
5.1 Scottish Ministers should make salmonid conservation a national priority;
5.2 The wild salmon strategy announced in the Programme for Government should explicitly identify and address the range of hazards which wild salmonids (salmon and sea trout) face, and which can be managed. The strategy should direct efforts to move beyond the status quo across the range of hazards which wild salmon face. It should clearly define the role of public bodies and future licensing and regulatory decisions should be made in accordance with the strategy;
5.3 Scottish Ministers should champion the delivery of the wild salmon strategy and ensure that sufficient resources are available to ensure that the range of hazards which wild salmonids face are effectively addressed;
5.4 The SIWG recommends that the wild salmon strategy should urgently consider and recommend the introduction of mechanisms to ensure that riverine and riparian habitat improvements are built into changes to the rural payments system;
5.5 Scottish Ministers should review the potential to further protect salmon within the context of the salmon conservation regulatory framework, particularly in relation to handling fish during catch and release;
5.6 The SIWG recommend that the data available for conservation assessments is improved through investment in a strategic network of fish counters, improved information on fecundity and sex ratios, and the integration of juvenile data from the National Electrofishing Programme for Scotland into the conservation assessment process;
5.7 Scottish Ministers should establish a working group, as part of the process of delivering the wild salmon strategy to:
- Oversee the delivery of SIWG recommendations and coordinate with working groups established or to be established to oversee interactions with other sectors that may impact upon wild salmonids;
- Assess and review the performance of the reformed regulatory structure;
- Support local engagement structures and consider the results of local wild fish monitoring.
5.8 Scottish Ministers should, in recognition of the lack of resources for salmonid management and conservation in Scottish waters, urgently explore new means to improve investment in Scotland's rivers. Experience from other countries should be used to inform a reformed funding mechanism for fisheries management in Scotland, to deliver restoration and conservation programmes to support natural populations of wild salmon and sea trout;
5.9 Scottish Ministers should, in recognition of the significant resource required to manage wild-farmed interactions appropriately through joint working at a local level, urgently identify means to increase capacity within Fisheries Boards and Trusts in
the aquaculture zone and in particular establish an appropriate mechanism for undertaking this function in Orkney and Shetland.
Scottish Government Response to Section 5; Wild Salmonids
Wild salmonid conservation is a national priority.
The Scottish Government currently works with a dedicated Stakeholder Advisory Group to develop an ambitious Wild Salmon Strategy to support wild salmon conservation efforts. This advisory group is building on the previous and ongoing initiatives put in place to address the wide range of pressures impacting on wild salmon. The Scottish Government continues to refresh annually the legislation brought in in 2016 which guides the mandatory system of catch and release and has committed to continuing the ban on coastal netting.
Covering a range of areas including, for example, threats in rivers and at sea, research, governance and funding, the Wild Salmon Strategy will provide an overarching framework to bring the wide range of cross-cutting policies relevant for salmon conservation together.
It is envisaged that the Strategy will identify high level outcomes which are needed to achieve our vision to protect and enhance Scotland's wild salmon populations and to develop and boost the environmental, social and economic benefits arising from it.
A Strategy Advisory Group, comprising a range of stakeholders, was convened in the autumn of 2020 and has met on several occasions since. We aim to publish the Strategy later in 2021.
A prioritised action/delivery plan will be developed by a Wild Salmon Strategy Delivery Group following publication.
The plan will include actions relating to all of the recognised 12 high level pressures groups, including the commitments on farmed and wild fish interaction published here, and it is planned that the implementation of actions will be overseen by the dedicated Delivery Group.
The Wild Salmon Strategy will also identify and provide a mechanism for the coordination of wild salmonid research and conservation efforts.
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