The Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board encompasses a large geographical area, with many medium and small sized rivers that do not contain large, exploitable salmonid populations. The issue over smaller rivers paying the salmon fishing levy to the Argyll DSFB was raised at the October 2012 Argyll DSFB AGM, when it was suggested that a Small Rivers Committee be established to look at the situation: no action was taken with no offers to sit on the committee.
There are 42 river catchments in the Argyll DSFB district, comprising 120 separate owners of rod salmon fishing rights. In addition, there are 65 known salmon netting stations registered with the Argyll DSFB, of which all but three have voluntarily agreed not to pursue netting activities at this time due to poor marine survival of salmon and sea trout. The owners of salmon netting rights who voluntarily agreed not to net have signed a netting exemption form, in return for which the Argyll DSFB does not charge them the levy: should marine survival of salmon improve in the future to allow netting to resume sustainably, then the ADSFB will be in a position to collect a levy.
There appears to be a common perception that many owners of salmon fishing rights feel they are not getting a benefit from paying the salmon fishing levy to Argyll DSFB. The Argyll DSFB does not generate large sums of money to be able to invest in these smaller rivers, however there are general benefits that a DSFB provides, such as protecting salmon and trout against inappropriate development by engaging with and influencing the planning and implementation phases of renewable energy schemes, aquaculture expansion at local and national levels, and providing site-specific and more general advice to regulators through regular meetings.
A Small Rivers Committee was established in October 2013 to investigate the issue. Various potential solutions to the issue were discussed by the committee in April 2014, all of which had costs and benefits. However due to the announcement of the Wild Fisheries Review by Scottish Government, which may have implications for the future operation of the Argyll District Salmon Fishery Board, it was decided to postpone any recommendations from the Small Rivers Committee until after the findings of the Review are published (anticipated to be November 2014).