Carcass tag purchases to help pay for Fisheries Reform

The recent Fisheries Reform proposals by Scottish Government contain some far reaching changes to the way Scottish fish and fisheries are managed. However it remains very unclear how these reforms will be fully financed. The Scottish Government have made it clear that they have an existing policy to not introduce rod licences, which is regrettable as this is what pays for effective fisheries managment in many other countries. Nevertheless the Fisheries Reform document underlines the principle that those exploiting the resource should contribute to its protection and management. Therefore, if rod licences are not going to be part of the future financing arrangements, then perhaps it should be considered that the sale of carcass tags is designed in such a way as to generate significant resources for local salmon fishery management operations.

If you accept that in an average year some 15,000 salmon will be killed by rods (this is based on the current 5 year average catch of circa 80,000 fish and an 20% kill rate), and that for every tag used two will remain unused, then if the tags were priced at £30 each then this would bring in £1.35 million annually to distribute to local FMO's and could be ring fenced for salmon fishery management and protection.

 

In years of low returns (eg 2014 when only 8,000 fish were killed) Scotiish Government could underwrite the shortfall. If low returns were to persist then the introduction of a rod licence would have to be revisited.

Why the contribution is important

This idea links the important concept of exploitation paying for mangement and protection of the species. Currently there is little evidence that the kill licence for rods will make a significant impact on stock levels and some even see it as an unnecessary tax by Government for no conservation gain. While some anglers are happy practicing 100% catch and release, others (with every justification) prefer to only fish if they have the 'option' of taking a fish home for the table. This idea encompasses both schools of thought and at the same time addresses a fundamental hole in the financing of the Fisheries Reform proposals.

by rivermanager on July 24, 2015 at 10:58AM

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Comments

  • Posted by sjrobinson July 24, 2015 at 11:32

    This will do nothing to aid conservation. It will only add cost and more complexity to salmon fishing which should be recognised as being important to the Scottish economy and therefore encouraged. Why not spend less or better still nothing on your new bureaucracy then there would be less or no need for this new tax.
  • Posted by Flyman July 24, 2015 at 11:54

    I agree with sjrobinson.
    flyman
  • Posted by Tweedsider July 24, 2015 at 12:18

    I can only speak for Tweed on this matter. Finance for all aspects of this river's management is raised by a levy on fish caught. Therefore the top most successful beats which charge the highest rent pay the most. Lesser prolific and tributary beats pay less, its fair its democratic, it is not broken let's not change it.
  • Posted by rivermanager July 24, 2015 at 13:30

    (Notwithstanding Tweedsider's overarching comment 'if it ain't broke why try and fix it'!) I am sure that proprietor levy would have to remain the key part of any future funding. But without a significant extra source of revenue in addition to this it is difficult to see how the reform/FMO changes currently being proposed by Scottish Government for the whole of Scotland could ever be delivered.
  • Posted by bradan July 25, 2015 at 08:04

    The suggested £30 fee for a tag would result in a significant lose of members for some small clubs where members like to take the odd fish but for whom such an additional levie would be the nail in the coffin. Pensioners and young anglers would be particularly affected.
  • Posted by rivermanager July 25, 2015 at 09:17

    While I do appreciate that many anglers do not like the idea of fishing 100% C&R, I think as sport fishermen of a dwindling resource we all have to remember that to kill a salmon is a choice. I have seen large local clubs on the river I manage shift to 100% C&R over the last few years due to local byelaws with very little effect on club memberships. I would hope that some anglers will appreciate that we have to do our part (particularly as coastal net fishermen are having to set aside their nets completely in these proposals). As for young anglers, I feel they should be encouraged from the outset to see that those that take from that resource should be required to pay proportionately more to its protection that those that do not.
  • Posted by garavogue July 25, 2015 at 19:51

    The cost of the kill license and tags will simply pay for this layer of the system. The whole new all singing all dancing fishery organisation will be paid from levys and no doubt be added on to anglers and businesses in some form or other
  • Posted by tweedfisher July 26, 2015 at 11:55

    Who is going to be happy to pay £30 to kill a fish they have caught? This whole system would only result in anglers stuffing a fish under the bank to be picked up later. If it is too expensive it won't work and people will take the chance. After all, who is going to be able to police any form of carcass tagging system? They could of course, increase the bailiff numbers ten fold, then charge anglers £500 per year bailiff levy on top of any kill licence charges, then stick a rod licence on top just to finish it off!
    Many anglers do feel slightly uncomfortable about total C&R for game fish, it does leave us open to the argument that we are just tormenting fish for our own amusement, something that every animal rights organisation would only be too keen to promote. That is why it is illegal to return any fish in Germany.
  • Posted by edenangler July 27, 2015 at 16:07

    There are many problems associated with the idea of tagging carcasses. Not least of which is how you would police the scheme. The administration and distribution of tags would have to be done by a central body and they would have to be paid for the work they do. The cost of the tag should be in line with the administration cost and not be another form of tax or levy.
  • Posted by Euan July 27, 2015 at 16:31

    Interesting to read tweedfisher's take on using salmon purely as a plaything. It's a point I've also thought about previously. So far the anti's have not really focussed on angling as fox hunting etc, have taken the priority, but I wonder how long it will be for attention to shift when salmon anglers are perceived to be driving a piece of metal into a fish's mouth, stressing it during a fight, then returning it only for someone else to do the same thing to it later.
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