SOME OF the most stringent salmon conservation measures ever seen in Scotland are being introduced on the River Tay this season.

The recommendations from Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board, guardian of the river’s precious stocks, will mean:

  • No hen fish to be killed at any time
  • No fish to be killed before June
  • One clean cock fish only to be killed per angler per day – weight not to exceed 10 lbs.
  • Beat owners being asked to make the measures a condition of let.

Speaking today in advance of the opening of the Tay 2010 season on Friday, William Jack, chairman of TDSFB, said:

“Over the last few years there has been a very substantial increase in the number of salmon being released safely back into the water by anglers, for which the Board is most grateful.

“However, we are mindful of the precautionary principle and believe that the Tay’s catch-and-release codes needs to be strengthened yet further.”

The move follows mounting concerns about dwindling North Atlantic salmon stocks, despite cut-backs in commercial netting operations and heightened conservation policies in most Scottish fisheries.  Scientists fear that climate change factors are affecting the location and abundance of the food chain on which salmon depend.

John Swinney
Scottish Finance Minister, John Swinney, will open the 2010 Tay salmon season

Jack warned that marine survival of salmon are now just 5% compared with up to 30% 30 to 40 years ago. Last year the river experienced poor spring and grilse runs.

Official Government statistics for 2008 show the reported number of salmon killed by all methods fell to 48,481 compared with 55,478 the previous year. Some 15,660 were taken at netting stations. Catch-and-release by anglers was up 1% to 62%.

Catches of sea trout fell by 15% to 22,785 compared with the previous 12 months. The two-year decline was 20%.

John Swinney, MSP for North Tayside and SNP finance minister will formally open the Tay season at Dunkeld as part of a day of events on the middle river. Anglers will be competing for the Redford Trophy awarded for the biggest fish caught on the main river on opening day.