Wednesday 18 December 2019


Robert White of the SGA Fishing Group has tabled the Holyrood petition on behalf of members.

The SGA Fishing Group has launched a parliamentary petition demanding a full stakeholder consultation on the future of stocking on Scotland’s salmon rivers.
On some waters in Scotland, hatcheries are operated, enabling salmon eggs to be stripped from broodstock and grown on in controlled conditions before being released back into the river.
The idea is to eliminate factors which can lead to early mortality, improving the chances of salmon reaching maturity, putting more fish into the system.
However, some ghillies and river workers with hatcheries are seeing increasing restrictions placed on the activity by Marine Scotland, who have developed a new position on stocking.
They are concerned that the fisheries scientists’ standpoint could become official government policy without proper consultation with ghillies, riparian owners and hatchery investors and employees.
Marine Scotland officials have discussed their position at river board meetings but have not achieved a consensus within the industry.
With salmon conservation becoming an increasing priority and Scotland’s fisheries struggling badly with declining catches, angler numbers and reducing local economic impacts, some ghillies believe the issue is too important to be slipped through without a full debate.
And while they understand that stocking can be contentious, even within the industry itself, they believe a full stakeholder consultation is the proper route for any future action.
“The SGA Fishing Group is not necessarily pro-stocking. There are a mix of views on the subject, across Scotland, some for, some against,” says Tay ghillie Robert White, who launched the petition on behalf of the SGA Fishing Group.
“However, we believe the proper process is for a full consultation. There is a feeling that Marine Scotland has rushed this through and then went out to try to build support. 
“We don’t feel that is the right thing to do and ruling stocking out, or certainly making it increasingly more difficult, may prove to be too hasty.
“Salmon catches are decreasing at a worrying rate in some areas and fisheries, too, are feeling the affects with some rivers recording their worst years recently. 
“Taking hatcheries - as a tool - off the table, without a proper debate, could be short-sighted and we hope everyone whose lives are bound up in salmon and the future of our rivers get a chance to have a full say.”
Hatcheries have proved successful in some rivers but less so in others, with local circumstances regarded as being a determinant.
Concerns, too, have been raised about genetic integrity of the fish although hatchery broodstock are from natal rivers in most cases.
On the other hand, some anglers in Scotland -worried at seeing their pastime eroded-, favour hatcheries because they see rivers taking a proactive approach to the problem of less fish.
“There are a number of different arguments,” added Mr White. “However, a lot of investment has also gone into some hatcheries and the people involved really need to be in the loop with the direction of travel.
“There is also a school of thought which says putting more fish into the river may enhance the chances of more coming back. All these views deserved to be properly aired.”


You can watch Robert talking about the SGA Fishing Group petition on YouTube, link here:

The SGA Fishing Group is the fishing section of The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, which has 5300 members in Scotland. It has its own identity within the organisation as it is specific to fishing matters only, hence the name: The SGA Fishing Group.

To learn more about the petition and to sign: see Petition link:

Infographic courtesy of SGA Media.