Chapter 5 - Resourcing wild fisheries management
51. The WFR considered the issue of how wild fisheries management should be funded and proposed retention - and widening - of the salmon levy as the main means through which the national strategy should be delivered at a local level. Owners of fishing rights are able to derive an economic gain through exploitation of a natural resource; it is therefore appropriate that the beneficiary of the resource makes a substantial contribution to its management. The proposal to widen the levy to include freshwater fisheries with significant potential commercial value aligns with the principle of all-species management and we consider that the costs and benefits of this proposal should be explored.
Q15. Do you agree that funding raised from proprietors should continue to provide the core strand of revenue for local fishery management?
Q16. Do you agree that we should explore the potential for extending the responsibility for paying the levy to the owners of all fishing rights?
52. In order to derive economies of scale and ensure appropriate levels of democratic control, accountability and scrutiny the WFR recommended that responsibility for collecting the levy, and distributing it to FMOs as part of a plan-led approach to delivery, should rest with the national unit. We believe that the new system should proceed on this basis.
Q17. Do you agree that responsibility for collecting and distributing resources from fisheries proprietors for the purpose of delivering the national strategy at a local level should rest with the national unit?
53. Collection at the centre would bring the ability, if necessary, to redistribute funding to ensure consistent delivery of fisheries management across the country. The general principle of redistribution is already a feature of the salmon levy system: a number of DSFBs cover several rivers and therefore the principles of prioritisation and cross-subsidising - albeit at a smaller scale - are established.
54. The scale of any redistribution cannot be predicted with accuracy until the FMO boundaries are identified and the resources available from within them calculated. However, if there is to be redistribution, it should be informed by the priorities of the national strategy and used to ensure delivery across the whole country in line with public value.
Q18. Do you agree that we should explore the recommendation that redistribution of funds should form part of the new management system?
Q19. If not, what other means might be used for funding local fisheries management at appropriate levels across the country?
Standard and locally enhanced levy
55. The WFR report suggests a two-tier levy system with a standard rate set by Scottish Ministers which applies to all fisheries regardless of location, coupled with the ability of a local FMO to apply for an add-on local rate applicable to the fisheries in their area to fund local priorities not covered by work on the national strategy. The WFR report did not envisage that redistribution would apply to the local rate.
56. This mechanism would introduce an element of flexibility into the funding system to enable additional resources to be levied for local priorities. The ability to deliver this two-tier system and the administration required to do so will need to be fully explored; in the meantime, views are sought on the principle of the recommendations.
Q20. Do you agree that we should explore the recommendation for a two-tier levy system?
Charitable, public sector and other sources of funding for fishery management
57. It should be noted that there is no intention that the levy replace the various strands of public sector project funding available to the sector. Resources are made available through bodies such as SEPA, SNH and Marine Scotland for a range of work which contributes directly or indirectly to fisheries outcomes; future budgets permitting this would continue to be the case. The national strategy for wild fisheries would also provide a helpful context to consider the relationship between these funding streams and their optimum use in support of that strategy.
58. A key benefit of FMOs being constituted as charitable bodies is anticipated to be their ability to harness the considerable voluntary and charitable support which exists for and within the fisheries sector. It is envisaged that FMOs will be able to garner support from various potential partners, including EU project funding, donations and support in kind, in addition to core funding through the levy. There are considerable levels of this type of support within the current system and we must take care when moving to the new one that these are not lost. We agree with the WFR panel that the skill sets of FMOs should reflect the ability to multiply up the core resources received, including the leadership, project management and governance of activities resourced through charitable funding.