Wednesday May 18, 2016

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You may have read the latest draft fisheries bill / consultation document from the Scottish Government. It has very serious implications for all who fish in freshwater in Scotland.

The bill proposes to criminalise all freshwater fishing in Scotland without written permission.

 Now at first glance this might not seem a bad thing, however there is a raft of other consequences go with with it.

 Firstly fishing for migratory fish (salmon and sea trout) without written permission is already a criminal offence in Scotland. Fishing for other freshwater species is covered by civil law. If owners want criminal law protection for other freshwater species they must apply for a Protection Order. This will be granted provided the owners grant reasonable and fair priced access to anglers after other freshwater species – for example brown trout. Salmon rights are unaffected. It works reasonably well and provides access on rivers such as the Tay, Tweed, Don etc.

 Right now on some salmon rivers, trout fishers are only tolerated because they have to be if the owners want criminal law protection under the P.O. (Protection Order) system.

 The inevitable consequence of this bill, if it goes into law, will be no P.O.s (there will be no need for them) and sooner or later no fishing for other freshwater species on rivers like the Tay, Don, Tweed etc where trout anglers are sometimes seen as a thorn in the flesh of owners who wish to sell exclusivity to salmon anglers. Right now trout fishers are often only grudgingly tolerated because the owners have no choice if they want P.O. protection.

This bill will affect everyone who fishes for trout, pike or any other freshwater fish.

 You may wish to express your own views on this to your MSP or to the minister, Aileen McLeod who is proposing this at the Scottish Government.

 A group of us including a lawyer have looked at this, have created a response template and provided information that will make it easy to respond. You can find this here.

 Please take a look and respond if you can.

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