New fisheries management groups could help to strengthen Scotland’s wild fisheries resources according to Scottish Land & Estates.
The organisation, which represents landowners across Scotland, has submitted written evidence to the Wild Fisheries Review commissioned by the Scottish Government.
In the submission, Scottish Land & Estates has said that a new system of management can provide benefits in terms of accountability and transparency as long as it embraces the excellent work of managers and volunteers that already occurs.
Katy Dickson, Policy Officer (Business and Property) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Wild Fisheries Review is endeavouring to modernise the structure of fisheries management and this is something we would endorse. The current system has developed organically and while some catchments are well managed, others are in need of improvement.
“Those leading the review group have already recognised that there are many strengths to the current management structure such as the ability to raise funds and to enthuse volunteers. We would encourage this to be built upon through new management groups - in line with the suggestion of Fisheries Management Organisations - which would oversee local fisheries management.
“Whilst we have concerns about the risks and associated costs of centralisation, we support this approach so long as the governing body has experience in the diverse range of issues which impact upon fisheries. We would expect to see groups in the new structure account for their year in a similar transparent annual report format that many fisheries boards already operate to high standards. These reports would include a summary of the year’s work, the plan for coming year, catch records, complaints log, good governance, how the group is managed and the annual accounts. Public meetings and published minutes would also be encouraged to ensure community engagement is achieved.
“Amidst any change, one aspect that is essential is the continued involvement of proprietors in the Fisheries Management Organisations. The majority of owners currently offer the right to fish and make considerable investment into their rivers. Their long term view and stability of involvement should be exploited to create a custodial approach to management. Proprietors’ involvement should further encourage investment in rivers and deliver a vibrant market for the letting of fishing.
“We are encouraged that the review group has met with a great number of our members so far and will have experienced the enthusiasm and expertise which exists amongst those involved in fisheries management. The new structure must capture this and encourage further participation. Angling in Scotland is a vital part of our culture, economy and environment and we look forward to participating further in review group’s work to ensure that wild fisheries can be enhanced even further through best practice management.”