HIGHER LEVELS of catch-and-release by sea trout anglers will be called for in Scotland next year following the publication today of Government figures for 2008 rod catches which show the species is still in decline.

Greater catch-and-release will be called for in 2010

Greater catch-and-release will be called for in 2010

By contrast, rod catches of salmon at 85,859 were up 5.7% against the 2003-2007 five year average and the number of fish entering Scottish rivers appears to be relatively stable.

The figures come in the annual Statistical Bulletin ‘Scottish Salmon and Sea Trout Catches’ (due to be available online here), the key official indicator of the performance of the migratory game fishery which is worth more than £120m a year to the Scottish economy and supports over 2500 jobs.

It reveals that catches of sea trout, one of our most threatened indigenous stocks, fell by 15% to 22,785 compared with the previous 12 months. The two-year decline was 20%. Catch-and-release rose by 6% to 50% of catches.

Andrew Wallace, managing director fot he Association of Salmon Fishery Boards (ASFB) and the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), said today:

“The 2008 salmon catch figures are in line with projections and 2008 appears to have been a reasonable but unexciting year.

Andrew Wallace, ASFB manging director: 'Concerns remain . . .'

Andrew Wallace, ASFB manging director: 'Concerns remain . . .'

“Concerns remain about sea trout catches though these appear to have improved during 2009. We will be maintaining a precautionary approach to the exploitation of sea trout and will continue to ask for better catch and release rates for sea trouth throughout Scotland next year.”

Wallace said salmon catches this year looked likely to be lower than 2008. Alarmingly low early spring catches had been partly compensated by later returns and patchy grilse runs throughout the summer.

“Poorly sized and conditioned fish were notable this year,” he added.

The statistics show the reported number of salmon killed by all methods fell to 48,481 in 2008 compared with 55,478 the previous year. Some 15,660 were taken at netting stations. Catch-and-release by anglers was up 1% to 62%.

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