“Scotland is the only country in the northern hemisphere where coastal salmon netting is actually increasing in intensity.”

The Salmon and Trout Association Scotland (S&TA Scotland) is urging the Scottish Government to take action on coastal salmon netting, particularly the current increase in netting effort, on a precautionary basis in order to ensure compliance with international responsibilities and to protect employment within our rivers.

The call came on the eve of the recent 28th Annual Meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) in Edinburgh at which all countries with runs of wild Atlantic salmon were represented.

Hugh Campbell Adamson, chairman of S&TA Scotland, said: “We are very concerned that Scotland is now perceived as being in breach of its international obligations on mixed stocks coastal salmon netting. The NASCO guidelines are explicit that such netting should only be exercised if there is clear evidence that the individual river stocks being exploited are numerous enough for it to be sustainable. No such evidence exists. Furthermore such netting is now expanding in parts of Scotland. In fact we are the only country in the northern hemisphere where coastal salmon netting is actually increasing in intensity.”

Mr Campbell Adamson continued: “The increase in salmon netting sends out all the wrong signals about Scotland’s commitment to conserving this iconic species. Scottish Government appears to be favouring an industry that is totally reliant on killing as many fish as possible – in stark contrast to the salmon angling industry in which over 70 per cent of fish caught are returned to the water. Furthermore it is anglers who contribute virtually all the very considerable money that is channelled towards fish conservation and protection. Without adequate conservation and good management, salmon angling, which supports over 2,000 full-time jobs in Scotland and contributes £50 million in wages, could be put in jeopardy.”

Mr Campbell Adamson added: “The 2010 grilse run was poor and for the most part this year’s spring run has been worryingly sparse. Accordingly a precautionary approach to any exploitation should be the priority.”

Paul Knight, CEO of S&TA, said: “Scottish Government needs to present a clear policy on how it will live up to its international obligations to protect wild salmon stocks from increasing indiscriminate exploitation, which makes the management of individual river stocks almost impossible. S&TA is adamant that any exploitation of salmon should be limited to individual rivers where local management can determine the number of fish that may be killed sustainably based on the best scientific evidence.”