AN END TO ENGLISH NET­TING…

…but rod-fish­ers must re­lease all salmon on at-risk rivers in 2018. Mark Lloyd urges an­glers to re­spond pos­i­tively to the EA’S pro­pos­als

Trout & Salmon (UK) - - News - Mark Lloyd is chief ex­ec­u­tive of the An­gling Trust and Fish Le­gal

THE AN­GLING TRUST’S suc­cess­ful bid to front Trout & Salmon’s Save Our Salmon cam­paign in 2015 led to the gov­ern­ment or­gan­is­ing a Salmon Sum­mit in Novem­ber of that year. De­fra is­sued a very un­help­ful press re­lease dur­ing the sum­mit threat­en­ing to im­pose catch-and-re­lease on an­glers. More pos­i­tively, the En­vi­ron­ment Agency an­nounced a Five Point Ap­proach to ad­dress­ing the is­sues fac­ing salmon, pledg­ing to im­prove ma­rine sur­vival; re­duce ex­ploita­tion by nets and rods; re­move bar­ri­ers to mi­gra­tion/en­hance habi­tat; im­prove wa­ter qual­ity; and safe­guard suf­fi­cient flows. The An­gling Trust has been lead­ing on the work to re­duce ex­ploita­tion by nets and rods in Eng­land. Our aim has been to re­duce un­sus­tain­able net­ting and get rid of all mixed-stock ex­ploita­tion (which catches fish at sea from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent rivers), while avoid­ing the im­po­si­tion of manda­tory catch-and-re­lease on an­glers. Over sev­eral months, we ne­go­ti­ated a set of draft pro­pos­als with the En­vi­ron­ment Agency, which have now been ap­proved by its na­tional board. Th­ese will be put out for an in­for­mal, six-week con­sul­ta­tion dur­ing April and I hope that ev­ery an­gler, club, tackle-shop and fish­ery owner read­ing this will re­spond to it. We will make de­tails avail­able through our e-mail up­dates to mem­bers and on our web­site. The re­sults of the con­sul­ta­tion will be con­sid­ered by the Fish­eries Min­is­ter and then mea­sures will be pro­posed in the au­tumn of 2017 for for­mal con­sul­ta­tion be­fore im­ple­men­ta­tion in the 2018 sea­son. The pro­pos­als in­clude a five- or ten-year ban of all net­ting of fish re­turn­ing to rivers pre­dicted to be “at risk” or “prob­a­bly at risk” in­clud­ing all mixed-stock fish­ing, such as the drift nets (due to be phased out in 2022) and the T& J nets off the North-east coast, which take vast num­bers of fish re­turn­ing to rivers in Scot­land and Eng­land. Th­ese fish­eries threaten all salmon rivers around the coun­try be­cause they put in­ter­na­tional agree­ments [to limit or stop net­ting] with the Green­lan­ders and Faroese at risk, so it is ex­tremely good news that they might at last be closed. In­stead of manda­tory mea­sures be­ing im­posed on an­glers, we have se­cured the Agency’s sup­port for a pref­er­ence for a vol­un­tary ap­proach led by the an­gling com­mu­nity our­selves (but this is sub­ject to the out­come of the con­sul­ta­tion). This would in­volve aim­ing to achieve 100% catch-and-re­lease on pre­dicted “at risk” rivers (cur­rent re­lease rates in brack­ets): Tees (88.6%), Dart (100%), Yealm (100%), Lune (71.4%) and Der­went (75%). On “prob­a­bly at risk” rivers the Agency would ex­pect to see an in­crease in rates of re­lease to above 90% on the: Co­quet (70.2%), York­shire Esk (87.7%), Hamp­shire Avon (100%), Pid­dle (100%), Frome (96.8%), Stour (98%), Axe (100%), Exe (75.9%), Devon Avon (87.5%), Crake (75%), Irt (64.7%), Tavy (74.7%), Ta­mar (83.6%), Camel (72.2%), Tor­ridge (89.5%), Lyn (100%), Rib­ble (91.3%), Kent (67.9%), Bor­der Esk (66.4%), Wyre (67.8%), Erme (100%), Plym (75%), Calder (100%), Ehen (58.2%) and Eden (83.4%). On “prob­a­bly not at risk” rivers they hope to see in­creased rates of re­lease: Tyne (71.5%), Wear (67.8%), Itchen (100%), Lyn­her (66.2%), Taw (85.3%), Teign (78.3%), Fowey (71.7%), Sev­ern (72.4%), Leven (93.3%), Test (99.6%), Dud­don (70.3%). For some, this will re­quire a sub­stan­tial cul­ture change if we are to avoid manda­tory mea­sures be­ing im­posed, for oth­ers it will mean con­tin­u­ing good prac­tice. It is very im­por­tant that we all sub­mit a catch re­turn to the EA at the end of the sea­son, which is a le­gal re­quire­ment of be­ing a rod li­cence holder. The Agency has also promised to take full ac­count of in­for­ma­tion from fish­eries’ own records. On all rivers, they would like to see bet­ter prac­tice be­ing used to en­sure that as many re­leased fish sur­vive as pos­si­ble. The An­gling Trust, At­lantic Salmon Trust and Fish­pal have teamed up to make a film called The Gift, which is avail­able on You Tube [You Tube: search “The Gift salmon”] The film ex­plains the best tackle and tech­niques to avoid caus­ing dam­age to fish. We un­der­stand the En­vi­ron­ment Agency may also be con­sult­ing on by-laws about types of tackle that may be used. Please make your views about th­ese pro­pos­als known through the con­sul­ta­tion process, and if you’re a mem­ber of the An­gling Trust and Fish Le­gal, please let us know, too, so that we can rep­re­sent you. Scot­land has, of course, al­ready im­ple­mented its sys­tem for clas­si­fy­ing the Con­ser­va­tion Sta­tus of rivers, im­posed manda­tory catch-and-re­lease in cat­e­gory 3 rivers and ended all mixed-stock net­ting. We have rec­om­mended a vol­un­tary ap­proach to Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales, which seems in­tent on manda­tory catch-and-re­lease. We will be do­ing so again when they con­sult on their mea­sures later this year. Of course, the real threat to salmon comes not from an­glers, but from pol­lu­tion, pre­da­tion, fish farm­ing, over-ab­strac­tion and hy­dropower. We will keep press­ing for real progress to ad­dress th­ese and other is­sues af­fect­ing our mag­nif­i­cent fish.

“It is very im­por­tant that we all sub­mit a catch re­turn to the EA, which is a le­gal re­quire­ment of be­ing a rod li­cence holder”

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