Chapter 8 - Regulation
68. At its core, the purpose of a management system is to protect fish and fisheries, with a key focus on conservation. The fundamental principles for management set out in chapter 2 state that regulation should be robust, proportionate and consistent (including consistency with an all species approach).
69. Existing regulation has evolved in a piecemeal manner over the course of many decades with the result is that it is complex, inconsistent, becoming increasingly difficult to enforce, often not based on robust or current evidence/science and does not reflect the policy and legislative framework of the 21st century.
70. As part of this fundamental reform we want to explore from first principles the management mechanisms which are appropriate for the future, particularly in the context of changes in fishing practices, proposed conservation measures such as the kill licence and the development of new management structures.
Annual and weekly close times
71. The purpose of close periods is to give a period of rest to species at particular points in their lifecycle, notably spawning. The current system deals principally with salmonids over other species and is based in part on custom. Annual close times vary across the country and can only be changed through secondary legislation; rod and line fishing is permitted during certain parts of the annual close time. Weekly close times are uniform across the country and prohibit fishing for salmon on a Sunday; in addition, net fisheries are required to cease from 6pm on a Friday until 6am on a Monday.
72. The WFR recommended retention of annual close times for salmonids with a review to ensure they are evidenced by the best available science and able to support socio-economic outcomes in the area. Further, extension to all species is suggested (where science suggests this is necessary) and the links with related developments in regulation (notably licensing the killing of fish species) considered.
73. The WFR recommended the abolition of the weekly close times except with regard to certain interceptor coastal and estuarine nets for salmon and sea trout where there is scientific evidence to support the need for closure. It further recommended that, where closure is required, this should be informed by science and linked to licensed killing.
74. The Government believes that both annual and weekly close times are best considered at a local level by the approved local management body, taking account of the national strategy, local circumstances, the agreed fisheries management plan and the best available science. Rather than pre-empt this local management consideration, we propose that the existing close time restrictions be retained until such time as the approved body for each FMO area has considered the issue, taking into account local fisheries management plans and the new fisheries management system in its entirety.
Q27. Do you agree that annual and weekly close times should remain a key part of the management system for wild fisheries?
Q28. Do you agree that the proposed local management organisations should have responsibility for considering such close times in line with the national strategy and the local fisheries management plan?
Rights to fish and Protection Orders
75. The purpose of Protection Orders ( POs) is to secure responsible access to sustainable fishing for non-salmonid species. The WFR discussed the issues of protection of the different rights to fish in Scotland and the Protection Order system. It noted that salmonid species have protection of the criminal law while other species have protection of the civil law. The review did not recommend a change to this inconsistency in legal protection, but did recommend a review and reform of the Protection Order system in order to ensure it is in line with its purpose.
76. In the context of this fundamental reform of the management system, the Government questions whether POs are necessary at all. Similar to the recommendation on creating an offence of reckless or irresponsible exercise of fishing rights we think that the structure of a new fisheries management system could be sufficient in itself to secure responsible access to sustainable fishing for non-salmonid species. The legislative framework could provide equal protection for salmonid and non-salmonid fish species, the national strategy could establish the principles required, and the local management plans could deliver them. This would bring consistency in the application of the fundamental management principles - notably all species management, consistent regulation across Scotland, and promoting opportunity and sustainable fisheries.
Q29. Do you agree that the purpose behind Protection Orders can be achieved via the design of the new management system in line with the fundamental principles set out in chapter 2?