Launch of major new campaign to end coastal salmon netting – Fishupdate.com

Launch of major new campaign to end coastal salmon netting Published:  22 November, 2007

A MAJOR new campaign, aimed at conserving wild salmon stocks in Scotland’s rivers, was launched yesterday.

The Salmon and Trout Association (S&TA) is spearheading the campaign, under the slogan “The Net Loss”, to highlight the claimed damaging impact of coastal netting stations on salmon stocks and to facilitate their negotiated closure – through buying or leasing the associated heritable rights.

Scottish mixed stock coastal nets, which randomly intercept fish destined for many different river systems, have a declared an average annual catch of some 25,000 – and this takes no account of any undeclared catch,according to the association. The S&TA believes that the continuing existence of this fishery is indefensible at a time of such uncertain marine survival, because of factors related to climate change.

Paul Knight, Executive Director of S&TA, said: “The Atlantic salmon is one of the truly great iconic species of Scotland. It is far too valuable a resource to the rural economy for its long-term future to be put at risk by unrestrained and non-selective coastal netting.

“The marine survival of salmon has fallen dramatically in the last 40 years and accordingly it is vital that those that do survive are able to reach their rivers of birth, where they can spawn the next generation. With marine survival such a lottery, the precautionary principle really must prevail – and this means drastically reducing indiscriminate exploitation.”

Mr Knight continued: “In the last few years, tremendous efforts have been made within freshwater to improve juvenile salmon numbers so that as many as possible migrate to sea. In these circumstances, it is of growing concern that the coastal nets, which contribute so little to salmon conservation, are currently allowed to kill as many returning adults as they can catch. This makes a complete mockery of attempts by river managers to maintain and restore fish numbers.”

Recently, almost all salmon-producing countries have accepted the basic principle that mixed stocks exploitation is an unacceptable way of managing a species under pressure. For example, Ireland permanently closed its drift net fishery in 2006.

George Holdsworth, Scottish Policy Director for S&TA, commented: “Scotland’s position is ambivalent. The 2001 Green Paper acknowledged that the exploitation of salmon beyond their river of origin was poor management practice, but since then the administration has failed to reconfirm this essential principle. We hope that the new Scottish Government will build its conservation credentials by adopting a far more robust line on mixed stocks salmon netting. We are not at this point asking the Government to close down netting stations, although it has the powers to do so on conservation grounds, but rather to give an unequivocal signal that it wishes to see a major reduction in netting effort on a willing buyer, willing seller basis.”

S&TA representatives have already opened discussions with the owners of two netting stations.

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