Anyone with an interest in fishing should be made aware of the following developments that threaten the future of salmon and trout fishing in the Western Isles (WI).
The Scottish Government has just introduced a blanket ban on most Western Isles anglers keeping any salmon they catch.
This is the result of using a flawed method that underestimated (20-fold) our salmon stocks and led the Government to believe that there were few salmon left in the Western Isles.
They have ignored all requests from local anglers and fisheries experts to overturn the ban.
Local clubs and tourism will be badly affected by this ban and clubs could face collapse if ticket sales fall.
The ban on keeping salmon takes effect this year, will affect all Island fisheries apart from the Obbe, Amhuinnsuidhe, Borve and Langavat, and will make it very risky for anyone in the WI to be in possession of a wild salmon (maximum fine £2500).
Of greater concern are the Government’s plans (https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/wild-fisheries-reform-team/draft-wild-fisheries-strategy) to introduce a rod licence for salmon and trout anglers.
Costs have not been mentioned but the licence costs £100 a year in England.
Fisheries/anglers will also face a new tax on any trout they catch. Costs are not being revealed but the existing tax for catching salmon, which will be retained, is £6000 a year for the River Creed alone.
These new taxes on anglers are required to fund a complex new national fisheries management system that will be of no benefit to the WI.
The new taxes will have to be paid by fisheries and angling clubs or passed onto anglers.
Anglers will also need to obtain written permission to fish for trout and fish may only be kept if the fishery has purchased a licence and carcass tags from the Government (again, costs not disclosed).
The consultation on this new legislation will finish on May 2nd 2016 and all anglers are urged to respond to this consultation or face extra costs for, and restrictions on, their fishing in the future.
The Stornoway Angling Association facebook page has details of how to object to these new proposals.