The re-categorisation of Marine's Scotland's conservation measures from a catchment-wide basis to specific rivers has meant that, for the 2017 season, rivers such as those on the Loch Lomond system - Endrick and Leven - the river Nith, and Inverness-shire's river Ness have been upgraded from their Category 3 status, which meant mandatory catch-and-release.
In essence, this re-classification shake-up of the categorisation system, which was then followed by further consultation, has meant that many west coast rivers and some east coast rivers no longer need to enforce catch-and-release.
Consultations during September saw that the river Ness will now be graded Category 3 until June 30, whereafter it will revert to Category 2 (mandatory catch and release will not be required, but the situation will be reviewed annually) for the rest of the season. However, the Moriston (famed for its spring run and located higher up the system, and which feeds into Loch Ness, pictured here) will remain a Category 3 river for 2017.
The changes in status of the Endrick and Leven rivers of the Loch Lomond system arose because of discussions, additional data, a revised calculation of the 'wetted area', a key component of the categorisation process, and a re-run of Marine Scotland's model. Similar discussions on the Forth system have led to the Carron and Allan Water being down-graded from Category 1 to 2, and the Devon becoming a Category 3 river, with the Teith remaining at Category 1.
The Nith's status also elevates from mandatory catch-and-release to Category 2, along with neighbouring Bladnoch and Urr. Conversely, 11 west coast rivers, which in September had been proposed to categories higher than 3 have now been returned to their previous Category 3 status.