The Scottish Government is committed to supporting and protecting our famous and valuable wild salmon and freshwater fisheries and to deliver a management framework fit for the 21st century. Over the last 50 years there has been a series of reports into the management structures of salmon and freshwater fisheries. Despite the volume of considerations, and the degree of consistency in terms of the actions recommended, there has been little in the way of strategic and holistic reform of structures.
The independent Wild Fisheries Review, chaired by Andrew Thin, considered the requirements for a modern, evidence based management system for all of Scotland's wild fisheries. I would like to extend my thanks to Andrew Thin and his panel for all the work they have undertaken to produce a thorough and wide-ranging report with over 50 recommendations for change. During the review process more than sixty face to face meetings were held with interested parties, and many more contributed written submissions. I would like to thank all those who contributed to the Wild Fisheries Review and I hope that you will continue to contribute positively to the next phase of the reform project.
This document sets out the Scottish Government's response to the Wild Fisheries Review, including the fundamental principles which will guide the development of a new management system. The purpose of this consultation is to consider the broad themes arising from the Wild Fisheries Review which should characterise the future management framework.
Scotland's wild fisheries are a valuable natural resource. We need a management framework in place which seeks to conserve them and to harness the potential they have to deliver social and economic benefits to the whole of the country. Decision-making on the basis of evidence must be embedded firmly within that framework, and it has to enable us to account for how we are delivering our obligations and commitments to those in the international community and at home.
We are embarking on a challenging and difficult task. The existing legislation is complex and views are sometimes polarised and held strongly. However, we are doing the right thing in tackling an issue that has been put aside too many times. This consultation on broad policy options for a new management structure will be followed by further consultation on a draft Bill by the end of the current parliamentary session. I believe that we can work together, across the sector and across political parties, to design and deliver a new wild fisheries management system for Scotland that is truly fit for purpose in the 21st century.
I am committed to working closely with the sector to deliver reform. We have established an external stakeholder reference group to help inform the development of the broad principles for a new management system through to detailed proposals and new legislation. In addition, there will be many opportunities for people with an interest in wild fisheries to share views and contribute ideas and thinking.
I am clear that we need reform. But I am also clear that in progressing change we must not lose the best elements of the current arrangements. The wild fisheries sector is characterised by considerable voluntary effort and knowledge and experience at a local level. There are many examples of excellent fishery management taking place in Scotland. We understand the need to maintain momentum and investment in the day to day management of fisheries throughout the reform programme. In taking forward the next stages of the process I want to ensure we retain key people and expertise, harness existing good practice, and bring them into the design of the new management system.
Dr Aileen McLeod
Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform