Scrap the Kill Licence Proposal

Instead of wasting money on a scheme that may have no benefit, we invest in research that might actually get to the root of the problem, or at least give us clear evidence based recommendations on the best way forwards.


Why the contribution is important

There is currently very little evidence to support a kill licence, and the cost of implementing and administering this system may be too much for the sport and the fisheries to carry.

When making decisions like this it is important to have the facts. We should be investing in the gathering of information that will allow us to make informed decisions.

Evidence from rivers in Scotland that practice 100% catch and release does not back the theory that introducing a kill licence will benefit salmon stocks.


by par2164 on July 23, 2015 at 03:39PM

Current Rating

Average score : 4.6
Based on : 14 votes


  • Posted by whitehouse July 23, 2015 at 16:39

    Particularly following recent reports to the effect that none of our rivers have sustainable enough populations of salmon and sea trout to allow for licences to kill fish, we should instead be creating a mandatory catch and release programme on all rivers and ban netting until scientists have established the sustainability of killing any fish.

    This would also allow time to work out how the licencing system will work, which patently is nowhere near arriving at a sensible, workable solution as yet.

    Rush this through at your peril. It is far too important to not be 100% workable. The downside of getting it wrong will be enormous and very public.
  • Posted by bradan July 23, 2015 at 19:58

    The problem is not with the rivers but with survival at sea. This proporsition will have little or no effect as it does not deal with the real issue.
  • Posted by galloway_fisher July 23, 2015 at 20:00

    Andrew thin wasn't prepared to look at what the problems at sea where if everything becomes centralised how can fisheries and areas fight against things that can harm salmon like they have previously with forestry and hydro which were previously instigated by government.
  • Posted by Greenheart July 23, 2015 at 20:33

    Whitehouse makes a very valid and practical proposal which I would fully support.

    The idea that a comprehensive well researched kill licensing system will be in place for bidding this autumn is ludicrous.
  • Posted by Euan July 23, 2015 at 22:07

    I disagree with bradan that the problem is not with the rivers, but would state that the problem is not due to any angling - or even netting efforts, but the effects of unregulated numbers of piscivorous birds ie mergansers and goosanders. These birds will eat anywhere up to 50 juvenile salmon a day each. When you consider that most rivers have hundreds of these birds, extrapolated over the year, that's a huge number of fish that are not making it to the sea in the fist place.
  • Posted by Utectok July 23, 2015 at 22:31

    Impossible to manage effectively .
  • Posted by tweedfisher July 24, 2015 at 00:41

    The practicalities of fairly distributing tags, to angling association members and day ticket visitors on many beats would be a big problem. If tags have to be paid for in advance, the whole system could end up being counter productive, as some might feel, if they have paid for a tag, they may as well kill a fish they might otherwise have returned.
    On a river like the Tweed, with a scientifically proven, sustainable surplus of fish, introducing a kill licence and tagging scheme is a pointless waste of money, that will have no conservation benefit whatsoever.
  • Posted by par2164 July 24, 2015 at 09:48

    Mandatory catch and release is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Most rivers already operate conservation policies (catch and release periods, tagging, one fish per day etc.). We have to remember that we have a duty to the sport as well as the salmon. Mandatory catch and release will do more harm than good, with many fisheries ceasing to exist and a massive reduction in people involved in the salmon fishing.
  • Posted by scaredforsalmon July 24, 2015 at 11:35

    Yet again a knee jerk reaction, this is not something that will be supported by the majority of fishermen without the other underlying problems of salmon numbers being tackled. Yet another survey and yet another whitewash of the facts will do nothing to make the figures any better. We all know where the problems lay, making rod and line fishermen take the brunt of restrictions and licenses FOR NO GAIN and that is the crux, will only serve to confirm that this government is not serious about the threats to our wild salmon but is paying lip service to conservation without having the balls to do the job properly. Personally I have not eaten atlantic salmon in any form for at least 10 years and would not let the contaminated muck from a salmon farm near me or those I care about. When the salmon farms break the terms of their licence on a daily basis and pesticides used for years are then banned as being dangerous thanks to new scientific monitoring (3 at least so far) What exactly would a kill licence achieve?
  • Posted by sjrobinson July 24, 2015 at 11:40

    agree 100%
  • Posted by marinescotland3 July 24, 2015 at 16:08

    Thank you for your comments. As you know this isn't a statutory part of the consultation process but rather an additional layer of engagement because we want to hear your views and to understand the basis for some of the comments.
  • Posted by Balmahablogger July 24, 2015 at 17:24

    Scaredforsalmon sums up the thoughts of many anglers who feel that they are being blamed for the demise of the salmon when in fact without them the salmon would be in a much more precarious position. I also would not touch farmed salmon on principal. I am an angler who loves to eat salmon (I've kept 2 in the last 6 years) but am also happy to do my bit for conservation - as long as I have a choice - I think that forcing anglers to pay for a licence will change their mindset - "I've paid for it so I'm going to kill it" rather than feel peer pressure to do the right thing.
    The full spectrum of threats facing salmon should be assessed and prioritised - this process seems to have decided that anglers are the only threat faced by them.
  • Posted by Ayrshirecast July 25, 2015 at 15:16

    In response to marinescotland3's last comment, I would simply add that this forum is welcomed and should have been introduced at the start of the Review process conducted by Andrew Thin. Many anglers I am aware of can't make head nor tail of the reform consultations and were sceptical that the review would lead to anything concrete. This is a useful medium as genuine thoughts and feeling will be expressed so why just keep it open for 1 week? That's totally inadequate. This should be allowed to run at the moment. They may then learn the strength of feeling amongst genuine anglers that just want to go fishing and shy away from politics and the formal consultation process.
  • Posted by tweedfisher July 25, 2015 at 17:38

    Well said Ayrshirecast
  • Posted by garavogue July 25, 2015 at 19:44

    Well said ayrshire cast!
  • Posted by scaredforsalmon July 27, 2015 at 10:45

    Lets face it guys they are again paying lip service, not including the largest problems facing our wild salmon and saying it is another departments responsibility is passing the buck so that when things go wrong it will be someone else's fault. Why is the issue split? It is part and parcel of the same problem, how can a coherent policy be workable when different departments are working on different things. As someone else says, what we do voluntarily now will be somewhat different to what we are forced to do later. I make my albe it limited living from fishing tourism and see a bleak future if this is implemented in it's present form. Perhaps there will have to be a voluntary salmon fishing imbargo placed on scottish rivers in order for those pursuing this hurried reformation to see how strongly we feel about this. None of us want to see the demnise of Wild salmon, None of us would object to a kill licence I think if other issues of even more importance were tackled head on, but if they are to be ignored then perhaps a few years of loch trout fishing and our salmon rivers left to manage themselves would make those in charge realise that actually we are comitted more than they are to preserve our salmon.
  • Posted by DavidR July 27, 2015 at 11:01

    Ref MarineScotland3 comment, are you actually listening aor just paying lipservice to the overwhelming level of comments being made by people who genuinely care and have the well being of the industry at heart (- which is not just fishing but also the support of the local economies in often very rural and marginal areas, who depend on the income that fishers bring to areas, which they will certainly not do if they are told it will be a criminal offence to kill a salmon for whatever reason.
    Again you can not compartmentalise the issues and ignore what is one of the greatest threat which is what is going on at sea as opposed to just in the rivers, in order to be able to come up with a comprehensive programme for the management of wild fish stocks.. Please listen and don't pay lip service!
  • Posted by scaredforsalmon July 27, 2015 at 11:48

    Hear Hear DividR
  • Posted by Euan July 27, 2015 at 12:55

    One point which has not been spoken about much, though scaredforsalmon and balamahablogger both touch on the subject is that there are a significant number of people, anglers and others, who enjoy eating salmon.
    With fewer wild salmon being killed due to the fact that anglers are conservation minded, this leaves farmed salmon as the only alternative for anyone who wishes to eat salmon.
    It is known that marine aquaculture (salmon farming) is an ecological disaster, and the effects of increased levels of sea lice and disease on wild salmon have been well documented. Farmed salmon are inoculated against the effects of sea lice and disease, but the wild smolts in the vicinity need to run the gauntlet. This evidence is agreed by all apart from scientists retained by the salmon farming industry and government officials who see a potential reduction in this industry as a reduction in funds to themselves.
    It is ironic, that to eat salmon nowadays – and if these proposals go through even more so – we are indirectly adding to the demise of wild salmon.
    This is just one more area which has been completely ignored, or at best lip service paid by the WFR, but its control would have a far greater benefit to the survival of salmon and sea trout than further restrictions placed on anglers who are already contributing to conservation more than anyone else.
  • Posted by ayrfisher July 27, 2015 at 14:28

    I would agree with all previous comments that this legislation is being rushed through far too quickly, with hugely complex issues unanswered.
    The consultation with fishery owners and anglers alike is wholly inadequate and this discussion board surely deserves more than 1 week.

    My own view is that Alex Salmond had more than salmon conservation in mind when he commissioned Andrew Thin, and the abolition of District Salmon Fishery Boards is part and parcel of the SNPs campaign against a perceived land owing elite, disguised as a modernisation process.
  • Posted by SALMONTWEED July 27, 2015 at 20:05

    The Scottish government has a legal duty to conserve the Salmon in our rivers however it has rushed to introduce a kill licence without any proper thought as to whether it will help improve salmon conservation.

    Things that will help with the conservation of Wild Salmon:
    1) Buy Out / Ban commercial netting operations
    2) Improve the habitat of our rivers
    3) Work at improving survival rates at Sea where significant damage is done to Salmon stocks
    4) Control wild birds that feed off Salman Parr such as Goosanders etc
    5) Tackle the impact of Fish Farming on Salmon Stocks
    6) Temporary Conservation Bans on killing Salmon when needed such as the spring Catch and release policy on Tweed. To be decided at a local level by Fishery boards who fully understand the issues facing their particular rivers.
    7) Scientific research on the issues affecting Wild Salmon

    Things that will not help with the conservation of Wild salmon:
    1) A Kill Licence which will encourage people with Tags to kill rather than release fish.
    2) A Kill licence as so few Salmon are actually killed by anglers. Any increase in Salmon caught and returned rather than killed is likely to be statistically insignificant in the scale the number of smolts running out of our rivers and Salmon running into our rivers.
    3) A Kill Licence which is going to be costly and time consuming to implement. This will lead to Fisheries having less funds available to invest into conservation plans.
    4) A Kill Licence where the cost and associated negative image for the industry is likely to lead to a reduction in the number of people fishing and the number of new entrants. The resultant loss of income to Fishery owners will reduce the level of funding that they are willing to invest in conservation.

    This Policy is being rushed through and will not achieve the results that are expected by the Scottish Government. They have been badly advised and need to listen to the anglers and Fishery Boards who understand the industry so much better than they do.

  • Posted by garavogue July 27, 2015 at 22:57

    Well said - but I fear that they have decided upon their course and plan to stick to it.
  • Posted by Salmon_Fisher July 29, 2015 at 22:57

    I can only echo the comments above in most areas. The proposal is targeting a very small town proportion of the adult salmon population. It is based on highly variable and often inaccurate numbers (the rod catch 5YA), which will often have little or no bearing on runs in any given year. It will not increase smolt production (and therefore stocks of returning adults). There is no way of measuring the success or effectiveness of the kill licence (except by counting the revenue)!. It will increase barriers to angling for those who have least means. It does nothing to increase our knowledge of salmon populations or life cycles. It will divert funds from conservation work into administration. It is founded on poor science!

    It's a sad day when government and conservation bodies are happy for me to eat a farmed salmon instead of a wild one. The life of the farmed one has a far greater environmental impact on the species than the death of the wild one. I see no reason for us to preserve the natural environment in aspic while we get on with destroying the bits we can't see. It's total hypocrisy and I expect better from government.
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