Tweed Commission outlines views on net salmon fishing

The River Tweed Commission (RTC) has responded to concerns about the future of net fishing in Berwick.

Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:13 am
Gardo netting station, using traditional fishing methods on the Tweed estuary

Fears were aired at a Berwick Regeneration Commission meeting last month about the potential closure of the Gardo fishery, the only remaining netting station on the lower reaches of the Tweed.

RTC clerk Fay Hieatt said: “It is, and has never been, the RTC’s intention to close the netting concerns in Berwick, when and where there is an adequate stock of fish that can be exploited.

“The RTC recognises the long netting history on Tweed, and wishes only for that industry – in return – to recognise that some salmon stocks on the river are more fragile than others and should not be exploited. That would mean fishing sustainably by putting the fish first, and not killing salmon until after the spring season has concluded.

“The RTC seeks only to further protect the fragile spring salmon stock on the river, which all of the Tweed rod fisheries already do by implementing catch and release until June 30 each season. We want to see a fair and equitable policy whereby all types of fishing on the river recognises this weak stock and agrees to allow it the chance to reach its home areas within the system to fully spawn the next generation.

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“In 2018, more than ever, this is incredibly important given the paucity of early-running fish in the river.

“The Tweed’s summer stocks of salmon are, however, holding up at present.”

She continued: “It is therefore unnecessary as yet to prevent either rods or nets from taking some of these fish. For spring fish though, it is merely a question of all who have the welfare of the river at heart making the right decision to preserve a stock in difficulties.

She explained that the proposed closure of the North East Drift Net Fishery, following a consultation carried out by the Environment Agency (EA) last year, has been delayed for a further season due to the number of responses the EA received. This proposal has no impact on the in-river netting concerns on the Tweed, which is an entirely different matter under different jurisdiction.

The whole of the Tweed fishery – on both sides of the border - is governed by its own unique legislation (agreed by both Parliaments) and is implemented by the River Tweed Commission (RTC).

Secondary legislation such as Regulation Orders, is set by the Scottish Government alone, and Ms Hieatt explained that it is for this reason that the RTC’s role is so important as an impartial regulator on the river; ensuring that the democratic deficit created by the Scottish Government making laws that affect England does not disadvantage English interests.