Carcass tagging

Separate regulations will be brought forward in respect of carcass tagging. The tagging regime is linked to the Kill licence.  Separate guidance notes will be made available in due course for the administration of the carcass tagging scheme. Tags will not be transferrable between either anglers or between fisheries.

1.    Do you agree that tags are necessary to ensure compliance with the Kill licence scheme?.

2.    The tags will be individually numbered – what else do you consider could usefully be on the tags?

3.    What form do you think the record keeping/reconciliation of tags should take? How do you see this working?

Why the contribution is important

Scottish Government wants to:

·      make clear that carcass tagging is an essential component of any compliance regime

·      ensure that users can identify any particular areas of good practice

·      understand any immediate concerns

by LockhartL on July 22, 2015 at 04:58PM

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  • Posted by reidy July 23, 2015 at 13:56

    Ensure netsmen and anglers use carcass tags and stop the poachers selling in the UK and unreported catches by netsmen. This is vital
  • Posted by galloway_fisher July 23, 2015 at 14:01

    The practicalities of carcass tagging needs thought out, if a kill license was per fisherman and it was up to the angler to apply rather than the beat, the onus of them using the tag correctly would be greater especially for beats who do not have Ghillies.

    It would also remove the headache of lost tags. E.g If one owner has fishermen staying in say his B&B or cottages and the fishermen fishing on several different beats they would need to be allocated carcass tag's for each beat. Likewise each fishing party would need to have tags allocated with them. Invariably tags are going to be lost / forgotten how would beat owners be able reclaim lost tags which they will invariably pay for?

    The cost of purchasing the kill tags would also need to remain at a sensible rate as this cost is ultimately going to be passed onto the visiting anglers if the cost of a kill license is too high and comes into play with say a rod license i can see fisheries closing their doors to anglers as the margins for those trying to run angling associations and businesses are tight.
  • Posted by par2164 July 23, 2015 at 14:20

    I don't believed the tagging system will discourage poaching. As usual it will be the law abiding that will be effected. The cost of this system will be passed onto the anglers and ultimately this will drive people away from the sport. If there is a cost associated with applying for tags, then all that will happen is many will chose to fish without and take the chance. This will ultimately force the killing of salmon underground and we will have even less information on stock levels.
  • Posted by marinescotland3 July 23, 2015 at 17:28

    The comment about tagging not being seen as a disincentive to poaching is interesting given that this was one of the key drivers for many who supported its original inclusion within primary legislation. Is that a view shared by others?
  • Posted by EdBere July 23, 2015 at 19:42

    Should some salmon netting companies process part of their catch what traceability requirements will be put in place on any products produced from the catch to ensure that the catch was tagged and recorded as part of the kill license?
  • Posted by bradan July 23, 2015 at 20:05

    Based on the way I've seen this 'work' in Northern Ireland, carcass tagging has the unintended concequence of encouraging the killing of fish because some anglers apply the 'I've paid for my tags so I'm entitled to kill x number of fish' approach. This also encourages the taking of fish that would ordinarily be returned.
  • Posted by Scottishangler July 24, 2015 at 03:41

    I do not agree that tags are necessary to ensure compliance with the kill licence scheme.
    The wild fisheries review and the subsequent consultation process has revealed that catch and release, as a mechanism for salmon conservation, has been widely recognised and embraced by the majority of salmon anglers in Scotland, to the extent that 80% of Scottish salmon in season 2013 were released and that 92% of the more of the important spring run were returned. These catch and release figures have been continually on the increase for many years and this trend will, I am sure, continue.
    Currently, most District Fishery Boards throughout Scotland, supported by fishery managers and angling clubs and associations, recommend conservation measures appropriate to their river systems, for example times when catch and release should operate and limits on the numbers of salmon which may be killed. Anglers, who after all have a greater interest than most in the conservation of salmon, are keen to abide by such recommendations. Indeed, more and more, salmon anglers in Scotland go beyond the recommendations by killing fewer fish than the law, and local regulations, allow. In conclusion, it is evident that further regulation of anglers, in respect of how many salmon they are to be permitted to kill, is really wholly unnecessary.

    Given the complicated bureaucracy and cost involved in a carcass tagging scheme - costs which anglers, fisheries and associations will find hard to bear – The carcass tagging scheme should be abandoned, or, at the very least, delayed until such time as the licensing scheme (without tagging) has been established for some years and can be properly assessed. Bear in mind that we are considering here the likelihood of honest anglers breaking the law and the perceived need to impose strict conditions upon them to ensure that they don’t kill too many fish. The idea seems absurd given the current extent of voluntary catch and release practised by the average salmon angler. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that the obligation on an angler to purchase a number of carcass tags prior to fishing might well encourage that angler to kill more fish than he would have otherwise have done, i.e. he has paid for the tags and would therefore feel justified in killing salmon which, without tags, he would have returned.
    As far as the poacher is concerned, the consultation document states that “There are also broader benefits in terms of helping to enforce fisheries legislation more widely, particularly poaching offences”. Does anyone really think that the implementation of a carcass tagging scheme will deter the poacher? Is he expected to apply for tags, carry them with his gaff and nets to the riverside and attach them to his illegally obtained salmon?
  • Posted by tweedfisher July 24, 2015 at 08:40

    Tagging will have such a detrimental effect on many Association waters. It would certainly be counterproductive the the Governments claims of wanting to make angling more accessible to the ordinary working man. These proposals will price the average person out of the sport.
    As for helping to prevent poaching, tagging rod caught fish will not help, as rod caught fish can not be sold. The poachers will still find a ready market for their illegally caught fish if the price is right, but with carcass tagging of net caught fish, then at least they could not be laundered through the markets.
  • Posted by splitcane July 25, 2015 at 09:04

    The (very competent) Marine Scotland guy at our most recent "drop-in" event conceded that most, if not all, rod and line fisheries already operated very prudent limits on numbers of fish that were allowed to be killed - BUT he made the point that these arrangements were not legally enforceable, therefore there was a need to put in a legally enforceable Licensing and Carcass Tagging system. This whole process is driven, not by conservation, but by the threat of fines from EU if a legally enforceable (complicated and expensive) system is not put in place. That, my friends, is why this is all being rushed through!
  • Posted by garavogue July 25, 2015 at 19:45

    Lets take for example an angling club. How are they going to allocate tags between all their members (maybe 120-160 members for an average size club) and then try and allocate tags for visiting anglers as well. It beggars belief that Government want to introduce such a complex system (which they probably don’t fully understand) to an industry (that they don’t fully understand) that in recent years has been highly successful at conservation- often returning 80% of their catch.

    The system will break down, it will be a logistical nightmare for clubs/ Beats and business and will of course be a huge financial burden - Both paying for the tags and applying for the licence. Tags will be lost and not handed back when not used (my guests regularly loose their car keys phone and fishing tackle) .It will end with clubs and fisheries getting disillusioned and simply abandoning applying for licenses in future. All well and good – perhaps this is what government wants ??

    Lets be clear though if this happens Scotland WILL loose rods and trade to other countries, where anglers can take the odd Salmon using their own good judgment. If government do not understand this then they have not spoken and engaged enough fisher men and owners really should have. All the measures that are being proposed will turn even more people away from Scottish Salmon fishing.

    On the final note - If a kill license is determined on the last 5 years killed fish on a fishery then all the fisheries that kill the most will be rewarded the most kill tags.

     This hardly seems fair to the fisheries that have been responsible. Lets say a fishery has 40 tags a year, as this has been their average kill rate. Lets envisage a scenario when fishery has a very dry year and then a tremendous run of fish in late October. Of course all these October fish will have to go back (and should)- but the fisheries average as calculated every 5 years will go down.

    I know of many fisheries (perhaps Tree lined) or under fished, for whatever reason and they won’t get any tags as they don’t have a historic rate of killed fish. The worth and health of a fishery should not be determined by this distorted rationale. What is the big rush anyway for carcass tags, and why the sudden interest in our fisheries from government? I find it slightly galling that our huge effort from thousands of volunteers in the sector has been deemed as NOT fit for purpose.
  • Posted by tweedfisher July 25, 2015 at 22:50

    I agree with everything that garavogue has just posted. I just hope someone from the Scottish Gov or Marine Scotland who now appear to be acting on their behalf, actually pay attention to these logical and reasoned arguments. To rush this unwarranted legislation through parliament is grossly irresponsible and will do serious harm to the governments credibility.
  • Posted by boabs55 July 26, 2015 at 00:53

    We as anglers are being railroaded to a disaster situation re kill license and tags it has all the hallmarks of a totally unworkable system.I for one feel that it will destroy many small rivers with either clubs or small syndicates as it will drive ordinary fishers away from the sport of fishing.The added costs at these very hard times for a great many people it will become a luxury they will not be able to afford. I agree with many on here who say the people who live and work on each river big or small know them best and have looked after them for many years are being ignored and they will simply walk away where will the fish be then. Also to base number of tags on a catch return system that has clearly been open to abuse will mean years when rivers are full of fish but fishers not allowed to take odd one and then at other times probably when rivers are less full of fish but because in past they have been more plentiful we will then crazily see more tags issued. I just cannot see the sense in this at all and i fear for all fish and fishermen
  • Posted by abhainn July 26, 2015 at 14:08

    Tags are used throughout the world. Does that drive away anglers? I hear a lot of noise about this going to drive anglers away from the sport etc etc. It wont. If you enjoy fishing then you will carry one as normal.
    Tags are vitally important to ensure compliance with a scheme. Any fish can then be traced. It will make it an offence I hope to be in possession of an untagged salmon. As for deterring poachers then it will make their illegally taken fish harder to dispose of.
    As for cost? How much do anglers spend on lures, flies, rods, reels? The additional cost will be tiny in comparison to that.
    Focus on the positives, they far outweigh any negatives.
  • Posted by abhainn July 26, 2015 at 16:33

    If carcass tags are to be issued to netsmen as well as anglers then to avoid misunderstanding by buyers of wild salmon then perhaps the tags should be different colours to differentiate between net caught fish and those caught on rod and line which are illegal to sell. If exposed for sale then where the fish came from can be easily seen. Either that or rod and line tags are marked as such and net tags are marked as such.
  • Posted by Fishpond July 26, 2015 at 20:56

    I don't mind carcass tagging but it shouldn't cost the earth and drive the price of fishing beyond the reach of anglers who don't have deep pockets and fish association water or less expensive rivers/times/beats.

    Sale of wild salmon should be banned in Scotland and all netting should cease - thus only anglers catching and tagging wild fish should have them in their possession - this could help with poaching control as possession of an untagged wild fish would incur a hefty fine/sentence.
  • Posted by tealblue July 27, 2015 at 20:44

    Its apparent that there are serious problems at sea as the Dee system which has been catch & release for many years has seen serious decline of catches in the last couple of seasons.
    The knock on effect will be that anglers will not return to pay premium prices for no sport. This in turn will affect all the jobs that are associated with angling hotels, b&b, pubs,cafes, ect.

    On another note The LOCH LOMOND ANGLING ASSOCIATION has been operating a tagging system with 5 numbered tags being issued for all season permits over the last 4 years which has seen no rise in the cost of permits.
    It might be prudent for the Scottish Government to pay the committee a visit and see how it operates this system.
  • Posted by Renna July 28, 2015 at 08:00

    The vast majority of the members of the Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association who responded to our questionnaire related to the April consultation rejected the proposals as outlined by Scottish Ministers on a kill licence, although we did agree with a tagging scheme if such a system is introduced, but not as outlined in these proposals.

    It was strongly felt that Association fisheries, of which we are but one, strive to provide low cost salmon angling for what might once have been called ordinary working class anglers and as a result over the years have often had to develop intricate leasing arrangements with a variety of riparian owners, some big such as estates as well as from understanding individuals such as small land owners and farmers. What is more such Associations often have memberships which run into the hundreds of anglers, many of whom are elderly and on limited incomes. Yard for yard and mile for mile Association water accommodates far more anglers than the more exclusive stretches of river ever will.

    As noted above in the case of the LLAIA we have a variety of short and long term leasing arrangements with a number of riparian owners as well as owning fishings on our own account. In total we have around 750 full and associate members and provide day ticket access to hundreds of anglers each year. We own or lease access to around 15 miles of estuary, 40 miles of river and 26 miles of Loch. Our members have agreed to the introduction of conservation measures which limits each member to killing a maximum of 5 salmon per year under a carcass tagging system. Since this scheme has been introduced, only a handful of members have ever recorded killing more than 2 fish per year. Recorded salmon catches are relatively stable in our system (including 2014) and kill rates for salmon have remained at around 100 fish a year for the last 3 years (about 30% of total recorded catch). Moreover the Association is currently undertaking proper scientific research in conjunction with the Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust to confirm anecdotal observation that salmon numbers and redds in our key spawning areas have improved over the last few years.

    The difficulty for the LLAIA (and for other Associations who rely on multi-lease arrangements and/or have large number of members) is that the proposed model would appear to limit the number of tags issued to Riparian Owners across the system to no more than the average kill rate, which in our case would be around 100 tags at best. This of course assumes that our riparian owners will apply for their full application of tags. Unfortunately for the LLAIA 100 tags into 750 members and a large number of day ticket anglers will never go. Fewer members will lead to less income which will lead to less protection on account of having less money available to properly watch and protect the system.

    There is every chance that by implementing the proposed model across the board Scottish Ministers will in all likelihood be signing the death sentence of the LLAIA and similar Associations as many anglers will walk away as they will perceive that they are being denied an opportunity to obtain a carcass tag. In our own particular case 114 years of history and accessible angling opportunity will be lost and the LLAIA will most likely end up a footnote in the history of Salmon Angling in Scotland. This scenario is a real possibility and totally at odds with the ethos of the Wild Fishery Review which has at its core a desire to encourage people to fish.

    If the kill licences are to be introduced (as it appears they will) then there has to be a mechanism developed that will protect angling associations. The LLAIA issue currently 5 tags per member most are never used and as noted above only a handful of members ever use more than 2 in a year. I would therefore suggest that the Scottish Government urgently reviews what process it will have in place to deal with angling association who offer low cost access fishing. Rather than an opt in arrangement each association could be guaranteed issue of sufficient tags to provide each member with 2 tags (to be charged at the agreed rate). Not all members would purchase tags, not all would purchase 2 and as always there would be no guarantees that the tags would in fact be used. For conservation reasons if the number of fish killed is 10% above the 5 year average on a particular stretch the numbers could be limited the following year.

    If such an allowance is not made for angling associations then there will be a drop in income and membership numbers. Even if this is only by a factor of 10 or 20% this will probably be enough to finish of many such bodies altogether, never mind the impact it would have on future income generation through the levy. The adoption of a 2 tier licensing system would enable a pragmatic approach to be taken that will promote conservation while protecting the future of angling associations who offer genuine entry level opportunities to those who otherwise be unable to afford fishing for salmon. Something I am sure that the government will want to secure for future generations.
  • Posted by splitcane July 28, 2015 at 09:13

    Unlike many "fishing forums", this one is producing a consistently high quality of balanced and logical opinions. The one from Renna is a really well argued comment, which all Angling Associations ought to be able to relate to.
    You could advance the same arguments for other 'non-association' fisheries - for instance we have a syndicate where part of the water is shared - quite happily and without hassle - with day ticket anglers. Many of Renna's points could equally apply in that situation as well.

    The sad fact, however, is that by and large the vast majority of rod and line fisheries already do operate really effective conservation measures - at virtually no ££ cost and requiring minimal policing/admin. The Scottish Government representatives at our recent drop-in meeting readily conceded that this was the case, but went on to make the bizarre comment that "such arrangements may be effective, but they are not legally enforceable"!!!!

     The whole Carcass Tagging scheme now proposed is driven by a 'tag' (no pun intended) of it being legally enforceable - therefore the ScotGov can go back to the EU/NASCO etc and say 'now we have a legally enforceable scheme for conservation please get off our backs and don't fine us squillions of euros for non-compliance'. The fact that the scheme is labelled 'legally enforceable' is the crux, completely ignoring the cost to individual fisheries (both in terms of income and capital values), the difficulties of how to allocate tags, and the complete lack of resources to enforce the legalities!!

    If you think this comment is wildly inaccurate in its conclusions, look at other ScotGov legally enforceable legislation, and don't be too surprised if you are unable to find more than a tiny number of prosecutions or indeed any signs that the legislation has achieved what it was intended to!

    If you also think the stage we are now at is about the bottom of the barrel, just wait until the whole can of worms is opened on "harvestable surpluses", the accuracy of the source data from where those numbers are obtained, and the 'provisional allocation' of LtK numbers to individual fisheries - all to be done in a rush through Sept-December 2015! We ain't seen nothing yet!
  • Posted by bradan July 28, 2015 at 13:05

    If ScotGov the whole carcass tagging fiasco is being driven by SG's fear of being fined by the EU/NASCO etc why-o-why are we not seeing similar concerns/discussions/arrangements for England, Wales and NI?

    Either those separate governments/DAs don't care or, it's not actually an EU enforceable issue and SG are simply misguided or mismanaging the whole affair to the detriment of angling, tourism etc?
  • Posted by Ted July 28, 2015 at 15:54

    The idea of carcass tagging may well work on gillied beats with regular guests, but cannot see it working on ungillied beats and for angling associations will be unworkable. The only way I could see this working for angling associations would be to allot so many tags to each angler at the start of each season,however the are a few problems arising from this approach. 1/ Would it be the AC responsible for buying the tags and then reselling them to their members ? This would see a very large amount of money being laid out by the AC,would each member have to request how many tags required at the seasons start. How/who would the number of tags be decided the AC should be supplied.
    1/ The fact that each angler requires to have a tag on his/her person when fishing would mean the AC would have to sell enough tags to all unless an angler opted out of killing and went total C&R.2/ I feel the only way this could work would be to issue rod licences, to all anglers in Scotland,(which I realise goes against the grain),and along with the supplying the rod licence a specified number of tags for the season. The main problem with this would be the cost involved,setting up for licences,tags and possibly a killing licence. On top of this,due to the Scottish government involvement will put and additional administration cost,all these additional costs could signal the end of the line for small angling clubs.
    Most angling clubs now supply permits electronically,but would be a bit more difficult to supply tags electronically !

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