I rely upon the advice of the National Salmon Commission and the regional fisheries boards managers in determining the terms of the wild salmon and sea-trout tagging scheme which, inter alia, sets out district quotas for the commercial catch. The chairman advises me that the commission has not yet completed its review of the scheme's operation in 2003 nor finalised its recommendations, including the proposed commercial catch quotas, for the operation of the scheme in 2004.
When presenting its advice on the scheme for 2003, the National Salmon Commission recommended that a three year strategy should be put in place to ensure, through progressive reductions, that the conservation limits specified by its standing scientific committee should be reached by 2005. In implementing the scheme in 2003 and to move towards attainment of conservation limits in all districts, the fisheries boards' managers advised that a pragmatic approach should be followed whereby the districts requiring the greatest reduction in current catch to meet conservation limits should be targeted with the greatest cuts in quota. It was also considered that as the current catch model is largely based on the mixed stock drift net fishery, some reduction should occur in catch level in all districts. This rationale was based on the knowledge that the districts are reporting entities rather than discrete catchments and a reduction in the mixed stock fishery in all districts will further benefit attainment of conservation limits in districts currently below the required limit.
I assure the Deputy that I will be guided by the National Salmon Commission's recommendations for the 2004 season. I will publish any revisions to the regulations in accordance with the statutory requirements as soon as possible.