The proposed 2018 gradings for the Ness district remain the same as those in 2017. ‘Grade 3’ status will remain across the district until the 30th June to protect ‘spring’ salmon and early running grilse destined for the River Moriston Special Area of Conservation.
From 1st July, it will remain mandatory that all fish caught in the Moriston conservation area are released – but the River Ness, Loch Ness and the rest of the Ness district will be uplifted to ‘Grade 2’ status, allowing a limited number of fish to be caught and retained. This will be accompanied by the ‘2018 Salmon Conservation Policy’ (see below) to meet the Scottish Government’s requirement for reduced exploitation on ‘Grade 2’ systems.
It is hoped that these conservation measures will ensure all necessary protections are in place for the Moriston SAC, whilst maximising the economic benefits for the wider district. Failure to comply with the conservation policy could lead to the Ness district reverting to ‘Grade 3’ status in future years.
Please note that the proposed 2018 Conservation Regulations have not yet been formally adopted in legislation by the Scottish Government and so could potentially be subject to change (although this is highly unlikely). The final decision on gradings is due by February 2018, in the meantime statutory Spring Conservation Measures will be in place from the start of the season (with mandatory catch and release in force).
Further to the above, it is clear that our sea trout catches are in continued decline and at extremely low levels. As such, we have produced new ‘Sea Trout Conservation Guidelines’. This aims to raise awareness of key sea trout facts, their legal protection, current status and what anglers can do to help (click on picture to view or download).