MSP welcomes government’s change of heart on rod licensing

Fishing boats at Harray Loch, a popular site for both local and visiting anglers.

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed confirmation that the Scottish Government has dropped its plans for a rod licence scheme for wild fishing.

Fears had been raised that such a scheme could have undermined arrangements in Orkney, which already enjoys effective community ownership and free access to its trout fishery.

During environment questions in parliament yesterday afternoon, Mr McArthur pressed cabinet secretary Roseanna Cunningham to clarify the government’s position on rod licences, proposed in an earlier consultation on the draft Wild Fisheries Bill.

Ms Cunningham said the government had listened to the concerns that had been raised and had decided against introducing a rod licensing scheme.

Mr McArthur said: “I certainly support efforts to make access to wild fishing more widely available.

“There is no doubt that in certain parts of the country, issues around ownership and rights of access are preventing people taking up these opportunities.

“However, in attempting to address this problem, the government risked interfering with arrangements in Orkney that already work extremely well.”

He added: “We have the benefit of a wild fishing resource that is managed by the local community in the interests of all anglers.

“Introducing a rod licence scheme would have been costly, bureaucratic and potentially divisive.”