The River Tweed Commission (RTC) decided at its last meeting in March that if spring catches did not significantly improve this year then it would ask fisheries to return all fish caught before July 1st rather than the normal Spring Salmon Conservation rules of releasing alternate fish. This is precisely in line with the published 2010 Tweed Spring Salmon Conservation Measures which clearly state that,

“The RTC may request full catch and release mid spring if it becomes apparent that the 2010 spring catch is becoming similar to the low spring catch experienced in 2009.”

Fishing conditions have been generally poor so far this year (2010) and whilst catches are slightly improved in places, there is no evidence that sufficient numbers of fish are in the River to meet the spring salmon spawning requirement.

If catch rates of Spring Salmon are around 30-40%, then an average catch of 2,000 fish indicates a total of around 6,000 Spring Salmon for the catchment as a whole. While this will be enough to fully spawn the rather small area of the catchment that still produces Springers, it is not a large total and one that is vulnerable to accidents, and bad seasons. The risk is that angling kill on top of an accident and/or a bad season could knock the stock badly. If we could be sure that we got a good return of fish every year and that we always had the "6,000", then we could continue with partial catch and release but that is exactly what we cannot be sure of. The extra released fish may not create any more juveniles or more adults but they will give as good a guarantee as can be got that the spawning target will be met. With such a fragile stock of Springers we need to make sure we do not accidentally damage it. Part of the problem is, of course, that Spring Salmon are keen to take - if they were as reluctant as Autumn Salmon and had a catch rate of only 10% or less, it would be a different issue.

Therefore it has been decided to implement TOTAL catch and release on the WHOLE River from now to June 30th.

This brings the Tweed in line with the Tay and the Dee and other northern rivers that already have 100% catch and release for Spring Salmon.

Beats are asked to implement this immediately.

The move to total catch and release has the support of the Association of Salmon Fishery Boards and the Salmon and Trout Association. However we are aware that there is an element of Tweed Proprietors, Boatmen and anglers who do not agree with it. Whilst we do not ignore these views, the RTC’s function in law is to protect and preserve its salmon stocks and therefore it has decided that it is right to act now whilst there is still time to make a change to the survival and spawning escapement this year’s spring run; too few fish would be disastrous.

Thank you very much for your cooperation in helping to preserve our fragile spring stocks

Issued by the River Tweed Commission (RTC)

The full spring conservation measures for 2010 can be viewed here.