A conservation organisation has submitted a complaint to Europe over the Scottish Government’s handling of salmon netting.
The Salmon and Trout Association (Scotland) is frustrated with a “failure” to protect Atlantic salmon populations in Scottish rivers designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under European law.
However, the Scottish Government has said it remains committed to meeting its international obligations.
Last week’s meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (Nasco) in France heard claims that coastal salmon netting is increasing in Scotland.
And a Nasco special session on June 4 heard a stand-in representative accept Scotland has yet to set conservation limits for individual rivers.
Angus-based Salmon and Trout Association chairman Hugh Campbell Adamson said: “It is disappointing that Marine Scotland’s senior civil servant with responsibility for coastal salmon netting was unable to attend the Nasco meeting.
“Had he been there, he would then have appreciated that Scotland is now widely recognised as a pariah because of its lamentable record on salmon protection and that it is widely perceived as not taking its international obligations seriously.
“It is the only major producer of wild salmon in the North Atlantic that is actually presiding over an increase in coastal salmon netting.
“Given (the) Scottish Government’s intransigence on dealing with coastal netting, we have been left with no viable option but to take the matter to a higher authority and submit a complaint to Europe.”
The formal complaint to the European Commission charges the government with failing to put in place sufficient statutory controls in SACs, and failing to comply with the Habitats Directive by not establishing statutory licensing system for coastal netting stations, or by not treating the reopening of long dormant or semi-dormant netting stations as “new plans or projects”.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said Nasco “does not prescribe” approaches to management of home water fisheries, nor does it require that netting for salmon is stopped.
She added: “Nasco members, including Scotland, have recently submitted new five-year plans covering the period 2013-18.
“Our report sets out in great detail the action we are taking including work towards the development of meaningful conservation limits and spawning escapement estimates so that salmon stocks can be more accurately assessed according to Nasco guidelines and appropriate management decisions taken.
“It also includes details of the independent review commissioned by the Scottish Government into the management of wild fisheries in Scotland.
“The review is being chaired by Andrew Thin and is due to report to Ministers in October 2014, and specifically includes reference to the management of net fisheries.”