The Ness District Salmon Fishery Board works in close partnership with the Ness and Beauly Fisheries trust and other key bodies such as Scottish and Southern Energy to gain a detailed and up to date understanding of the status of salmon and sea trout populations within the District. Keys sources of information include:
- Electric fishing survey data;
- Scottish and Southern Energy fish counter data;
- River habitat survey data;
- Fish barrier assessments;
- Water quality assessments;
- Fish health investigations;
- Population genetic structuring; and
- Analysis of annual catch returns from rod and net fisheries.
The receipt of such information allows the Board to make an informed assessment of the potential impacts of development proposals within the District, assess applications for scientific and other exemptions to the 2003 Act and to inform its own fisheries management activities such as stocking, habitat improvement and conservation measures.
The production of juvenile salmon and sea trout in a river system is limited by the availability of good quality spawning and nursery habitat. The ability of the river to achieve maximum production is in-turn dependent on the number of eggs laid and distribution in relation to such habitat.
The principle aim of our fisheries management activities is to maximise the natural production of salmon and sea trout in the Ness system through the protection and enhancement of spawning success and juvenile survival. This is achieved by:
- Improving access to spawning and nursery areas through the removal of man-made obstacles and the clearance of natural/semi-natural blockages;
- Identifying and mitigating problems relating to water quality (including diffuse and point sources of pollution) and quantity;
- Enhancement of in-stream and riparian habitat;
- Control of invasive non-native species;
- Monitoring, control and management of predators where there is evidence of ‘serious damage’ to the fishery; and
- Managing the exploitation of returning adults through agreement with coastal netting operations, the promotion of catch and release amongst rod and line anglers and the prevention of illegal exploitation of fish.
The Ness District Salmon Fishery Board works with a wide range of partners to achieve these aims and objectives. This includes the Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust, regulatory bodies such as SEPA and SNH, together with individual land owners and tenant farmers.
The Ness District Salmon Fishery Board employs a team of highly experienced and Institute of Fisheries Management Certified Water Bailiffs. They are led by our Head Bailiff John McColl and are responsible for the enforcement of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 2003.
A Water Bailiff is defined as any person appointed as such under the 2003 Act by a District Salmon Fishery Board or by Scottish Ministers. A Water Bailiff has various statutory powers of arrest, search, entry and seizure which extend to the whole district of the Board together with that of any adjoining Board. The production of a Water Bailiff’s photographic warrant of appointment allows them to exercise their powers. Any person who refuses to allow a water bailiff to exercise his or her powers shall be guilty of an offence, and liable to summary conviction.
Our Water Bailiffs complete regular patrols of the catchment throughout the year. These are carried out day and night and cover the main river, tributaries, lochs and coastline. They have a range of specialist equipment at their disposal, including: unmarked vehicles, patrol boats, video cameras, image intensifiers and thermal imagers. Water Bailiffs work closely with Wildlife Liaison Officers from Police Scotland, together with officers from other enforcement agencies.
It is a criminal offence to fish for salmon without the legal right or without written permission from the owner of the right. Although in general it is not a criminal offence to fish for or take trout and other freshwater fish in Scotland, this does not mean that there is a free right to fish anywhere. The rights of riparian owners (who own the fishing rights for trout and other freshwater fish) are protected by principles of civil law. No one (even if lawfully on the bank of a river or loch under a right of access) has an implied right to fish there. Fishing is only available to the owner of a fishery or with their written permission.
If you see or suspect that any suspicious fishing activity is taking place then please contact our Bailiff Team at the earliest opportunity on 07789 006078 or 07944 617202. All calls will be treated in the strictest of confidence.