Last update: 11th March 2020

Another Mike Ashwin challenge to NRW and EA

North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council

part of the Angling Trust and AT North West Freshwater Forum

6th March 2020

Heidi Stone, EA Salmon Programme Manager Peter Gough, NRW Principal Fisheries Adviser Cc

Sharon Kennedy, Environment Manager Cumbria

David Hudson, EA Environment Manager, Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Dr Alan Walker, Cefas Senior Scientific Offiicer

Mark Owen, Angling Trust Head of Freshwater Paul Knight, S&TCUK Chief Executive Officer Mark Bilsby, AST Chief Executive Officer Officers of NWATFCC, PAAS & CPW

Dear Heidi & Peter,

Summary of current status of NWATFCC, PAAS & CPWF actions/requests to EA & NRW awaiting resolution concerning river & national stock assessments

Highlighted are the responses sought and actions acknowledged on individual matters.

  1. Solway & NW River Byelaws & assessments – NWATFCC referral and request to EA following meeting with Defra Minister (4th February 2019) for incorrect rod exploitation rates used in 2018 and historic assessments to be reviewed, revised and individual River annual compliance to Conservation Limit recalculated. Necessity for an early review of the 2018 Solway byelaws. Following the EA Complaints process and EA Independent Internal Report (received by NWATFCC on 10th January 2020) the EA handling and decision process was upheld by the independent EA Deputy Director.

NWATFCC & individual Clubs on four NW Rivers have referred this for further Legal advice and action.

  • River Severn 2019 Emergency Byelaws – NWATFCC acting for Prince Albert Angling Society produced a detailed report on the 2019 Emergency byelaw Decision Paper, highlighting incorrect 2015 -18 under reported rod estimates used, resulting in underestimation of stock in decision justification. Recommendations made for recalculation of the individual year assessments, trend status and a full 2020 consultation with revised conservation case and applied measures. PAAS letter & NWATFCC Report forwarded to EA on 5th December 2020. Several communications received concerning the intended EA response to this and expected timescales, but as yet no final response. Some urgency as 2020 Consultation timescales may not be met ?
  • Cross Border Welsh Dee & Wye Byelaws.- NWATFCC, PAAS & CPWF request and recommendation in letters 28th January & 8th February2020 to the Welsh Cabinet minister Lesley Griffiths, that the Byelaws are not approved and deferred subject to the outcome and findings of the National review on rod exploitation rates & wider NASCO 2019 -24 IP three year review on Improvements to national stock reporting & assessments. The reviews to be undertaken by EA, NRW & Cefas. The Minister declined this request and approved the byelaws the following day, 29thJanuary 2020. This decision process referred by rod fisheries for legal advice.
  • River salmon stock estimates Re Cross Border & National Byelaw measures implementation – Review of Welsh Dee Index River methodology estimates – Request by NWATFCC, PAAS & CPWF as part of analysis undertaken by Prof Brian Revell & M. Ashwin, for rod fisheries engagement concerning the current Welsh Dee – Angler log book scheme methodology providing estimates of whole run Dee spawning estimates and rod exploitation rate estimates for other referenced Welsh rivers. NWATFCC letters to NRW, 8th December 2019 & 23rd January 2020. NRW response and letter 6th January received from Peter Gough, NRW. Confirmation from Peter Gough, NRW that a further and final response to NWATFCC letter of the 23rd January is being prepared.
  • National Review – rod exploitation rates – extensive dialogue by NWATFCC with EA and in recommendations from NWATFCC & CPWF through the Angling Trust in 2018 to Defra & Welsh Cabinet ministers for this Review. Formal notification from NWATFCC (13th July 2019 to EA) and CPWF (8th Dec 2019 to NRW) that rod fisheries organisations cannot agree or accept the provisional 2018 published River assessments and await confirmation of the 2019 rod exploitation review findings and necessary corrections being applied.

After initial confirmation and clarification by the EA to M. Ashwin that rod fisheries would be included in this Review process there has been no further invitation or announcement on the Review. NWATFCC , CPWF & Salmon Advisory Group have made a number of requests concerning this, the most recent to Heidi Stone EA & Peter Gough NRW on the 9th February 2020. We await this response.

  • National Review – NASCO 2019 – 24 IP submissions to drafting of Improvements to stock reporting, assessments and final review process. NWATFCC, CPWF submitted detailed NASCO IP draft recommendations to rod fisheries Representatives to the England Fisheries Group on 23rd December 2018, and subsequently provided further papers supporting this including reporting accuracy of historic trend forecasting and comparative analysis of alternate and current models and methodology.

The vision of a harmonised UK mainland conservation strategy and shared cross border reporting process is an integral step in this process. Additional academic analysis of factors affecting Salmon run estimates and NWATFCC recommendations to develop a fisheries reporting website accessible platform are key elements to these recommendations. .

Again, we have not been informed of the proposed timetable and NWATFCC & CPWF await a response from the EA & NRW, as part of the joint letter of the 9th February 2020.

A response to items 2, 4, 5 & 6 are requested by rod fisheries representatives, bearing in mind intended timetables for developing and presenting these.

With kind regards, Mike Ashwin

Chairman of NWATFCC,

The Barn, Skirwith, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1RH

Wye Salmon Association to NRW

Penyhil Felindre Brecon Powys

LD3 0SU

25 February 2020

To:

Julian Bray, Head of Inland Fisheries, WAG

Dear Sir,

Wye Salmon Association wish again to register with the Welsh Assembly Government their concern over the significant lack of NRW Fisheries resources.

We have on a number of occasions recently, written to the WAG Environment Minister and NRW CEO & Chair highlighting the plight of Atlantic Salmon in the River Wye. Registering our belief a state of emergency exists with respect to Salmon stocks in the Wye.

We have expressed major misgivings over the current salmon action plans under consideration by WAG/NRW, believing they offer little more than a continuation of existing actions. Actions that have delivered very little in the way of salmon stock recovery over the last 20+ years. Lacking in inspiration, we consider their content short of the mark and a lost opportunity.

As a result, today, we are faced with the potential extinction of Wye salmon, on your watch.

We are certain a lack of resource and funding within NRW is constraining their ability and willingness to fulfil their statutory fisheries duties and develop robust salmon stock recovery plans . Too much reliance on self-regulation, as NRW do not have sufficient resource to enforce in such areas as agricultural and sewage pollution and we suspect even the revised angling byelaws.

In our communication we requested the Minister sought from the NRW an answer to the questions ‘will this plan deliver the required stock Conservation Targets [CL], as are implicit in NASCO Guidelines for Management of Salmon Fisheries, CNL(09)43, and by when. If less than an unequivocal YES, what is required that might?

Whilst receiving a cursory response from The Minister, it did not address the obvious seriousness of this question. We received no response from the CEO and or Chair of NRW to whom this correspondence was also addressed.

The outsourcing of river restoration work, by NRW, a policy supported by WAG it would appear, to Rivers Trusts, in order to compensate for the lack of in-house resource and funding has resulted in the skewing of actions towards task based actions, rather than the ‘bold and

Wye Salmon Association Cymdeithas Eog Gwy. Penyhil, Felindre, Brecon, Powys LD3 0SU

Tel: 07789133263. Email: enquiries@wyesalmon.com Website www.wyesalmon.com

urgent’, target based initiatives needed. Prevarication and dogma, we suspect, disguised as research, reviewing, consulting etc, wasteful of resource and lacking innovative thinking. Words to raise funding rather than actions to deliver real world solutions.

Evidence; in the 23 years since 1996 of ‘Salmon Action Plans’, the 5 year annual average rod catch has declined from 1852 in the period to 1996 to currently 941 and in the last 15 years the Conservation Target [CL] for egg deposition has only been achieved once! This despite the millions spent on habitat improvement on the Wye.

River trusts, whilst charities and non-profit making, operate by necessity as businesses with an overriding need to fund their payroll and overhead costs as a first consideration. They follow the money sources, and whilst there is much to be commended in many actions and initiatives, often, as a result they lose focus on the end result. The focus that a properly resourced NRW supported by its stakeholder driven Local Fishery Groups [LFGs] could provide.

Engagement of the whole angling community on the river Wye has been compromised by a ‘lack of trust’ in NRW and the organisations charged with recovery, with accusations of not ‘communicating or listening’ and ‘not acting on critical matters’.

The now very visible lack of NRW resources, combined with the failure to achieve a sustained turn round in the fortunes of Wye salmon stocks, and a new salmon action plan considered to be not fit for purpose, will further weaken engagement by stakeholders in river programmes and massively reduce the opportunity to increase support and funding for future river improvements.

A missed opportunity perhaps as WSA believes there is significant funding available from the angling community for a plan aligned with actions they believe likely to deliver recovery of Wye salmon fisheries.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Smith Chairman

Wye Salmon Association

John Eardley to minister re: River Dyfi - Welsh Beaver Project

26th February 2020

Lesley Griffiths AM

Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Welsh Government

5th Floor Tŷ Hywel Cardiff Bay CF99 1NA

By email to Correspondence.Lesley.Griffiths@gov.wales (for the personal attention of the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs)

Re: Restoring Nature on the River Dyfi – Welsh Beaver Project

Dear Minister,

A series of meetings organised by the Wildlife Trusts Wales are currently being held in the Dyfi Valley with the stated purpose of undertaking a “five-year managed reintroduction of beavers to the River Dyfi and investigating how well beavers fit back into the Welsh countryside”. The reality is that there is absolutely no need for a “managed reintroduction” as there are already 2 adult beavers and 3 kits present on the tidal Dyfi downstream of Machynlleth. Furthermore the damage that they have already inflicted on the banks of the river and riparian vegetation by felling trees and burrowing into banks as shown in the photographs on Page 3, makes it abundantly clear that they do not “fit back into the Welsh countryside”.

Angling stakeholders who have attended the recent community drop in events have expressed concern that the project is being presented as a fait accompli and as a result we must voice our objections in the strongest possible terms. At a time when angling organisations are struggling to come to terms with the damage caused by the introduction of the All Wales Byelaws it is wholly unacceptable to introduce a further unpredictable variable into the equation. By their own admission Natural Resources Wales do not have the funding or manpower to manage their current commitments and are certainly not in a position to properly manage the introduction of a new species into the ecosystem.

According to the project website (https://www.welshbeaverproject.org), the last natural historic record of living beavers in England and Wales dates back to 1188, a time when the natural environment was a world apart from the Dyfi valley in the 21st century. Along with our most obvious concern that beaver dams pose a major threat to both upstream and downstream migration of salmonids, even a cursory glance at the project website reveals further compulsive evidence of why this proposal should progress no further. Statements such as “the coppicing of trees and other vegetation reduces canopy cover” and “flooding from dams can cause tree deaths” are completely at odds with recent tree planting campaigns in Wales which seek to keep river water cool in salmonid spawning areas. In 2018 drought conditions led to fish mortality in a number of areas within the catchment, a situation that would have been significantly exacerbated had beavers been introduced in the past. Furthermore debris from beaver dams washed away during severe flooding has the potential to cause temporary dams to form against bridges which then burst and significantly increase the flood risk in areas downstream.

We are informed that “beaver prefer living in burrows in banks along slower flowing, unpolluted rivers with good aquatic vegetation” and yet the Dyfi and its tributaries are fast flowing rivers with little weed growth, and in many areas are contained within a rocky channel, in simple terms an unsuitable and hostile environment for beavers. We are also told that “studies show that following release they disperse widely throughout a watershed” and that “breaching of dams” is possible where problems arise whilst “wire fences can also be set across the water course on smaller rivers and streams to prevent beaver passage and limit extension of territory”. Where problems persist “removal by live trapping outside the breeding season is the most effective solution”. Whoever wrote these statements clearly has little knowledge of tributaries such as the North and South Dulas, Twymyn and Cleifion where the nature of the terrain would make such activities completely impossible.

There are far too many negative factors and risks for this project to progress any further and we trust that you will recognise that and take the appropriate action.

Yours sincerely

Richard Evans – Hon. Secretary, New Dovey Fisheries Association (1929) Limited

Karl Humphries – Vice Chairman & Game Fisheries Officer, Prince Albert Angling Society

Julian Glantz – Secretary, Llanbrynmair Angling Association

John Eardley – Strategy Officer, Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries

On behalf of:

New Dovey Fisheries Association (1929) Limited

Prince Albert Angling Society

Llanbrynmair Angling Association

Brigands & Bryn Cleifion Fishery

59 Flyfishers

D & R Huntbach Private Fishery

Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries

Response from Ceri Davies re chicken farms

Ein cyf/Our ref:

Eich cyf/Your ref:

Ty Cambria/Cambria House

29 Hoel Casnewydd/Newport Road Caerdydd/Cardiff

CF24 0TP Ebost/Email: Ffôn/Phone:

Chris White Conservation officer

Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries (CPWF) chriswhite.cohite@btinternet.com

21 February 2020

Dear Chris

Disposal of contaminated water from Fron Bella broiler unit, Pentrefoelas, Conwy

Thank you for your letter, we appreciate your interest in this matter which is also important to us.

An Environmental Permit was issued to GB Jones Ltd in September 2017 to operate Fron Bella Broiler Unit. It allows a maximum of 150,000 birds to be housed at any time and requires the operator to follow best available techniques to minimise the impact from the operation.

Chemicals must be stored in a suitable bunded container to avoid accidental spillages, and contaminated water must be contained.

The standard procedure for cleaning housing after the birds have been removed at the end of the crop is first for the manure and bedding to be removed and then for the building to be washed with water before it is finally damped down with disinfectant. The washwater is contained in a tank before being spread to land. It should not contain any disinfectant.

Our local Environment Team regulates the permit for Fron Bella Farm. A routine inspection visit to the farm will be undertaken within the next month. The inspection visit will check for compliance with conditions on disposal of washwater and confirm the disinfectant procedure and the type used.

An NRW Fisheries Officer will also attend the permit inspection visit to identify any potential issues for fisheries, although it must be noted that we have no evidence of any current fisheries issues arising from this farm’s operations. Planned monitoring of fish populations in the Nug and the Merddwr later this year will provide evidence on the current condition of these tributaries.

With respect to your concerns about the use of Virkon, we have not yet had clarification that this is the disinfectant type used at Fron Bella Farm. Virkon is one of a number of approved disinfectants that are biodegradable if applied to land. The inspection visit will clarify that any

Tŷ Cambria · 29 Heol Casnewydd · Caerdydd · CF24 0TP Cambria House · 29 Newport Road · Cardiff · CF24 0TP

disinfectants in use are being applied and disposed of in a manner that is compliant with the permit.

The Protocol you refer to covers disposal of contaminated water resulting from environmental incidents. Routine washwater disposal would not be covered by this but was considered and assessed as part of the permit determination. All farms must comply with the Code of Good Agricultural Practice (CoGAP) to protect water and land from pollution from their activities and our inspection will assess compliance with this.

Yours sincerely

Ceri Davies Executive Director

Evidence, Policy & Permitting

Notes of meeting with Julian Bray

On Wednesday at the suggestion of the Minister along with John Eardley we met Julian Bray as Head of Inland Fisheries for WG together with Luke Davies who works for Julian, the meeting was held in the Llandudno WG offices between 10:00 and 12:00. 

I had previously worked with Julian when he was EA(W) Fisheries Manger for North Wales he also took over the running of hatcheries from memory around 2012 and John and I worked with him on our stocking programs on the Mawddach and Conwy.  Julian left EA(W) to take up the role of Marine Fisheries Manager for WG prior to the formation of NRW – he sensibly stayed with WG.  Julian was appointed to Inland Fisheries for WG in July 2019 following the retirement (?) of Jeremy Frost in April 2019 and therefore had no involvement in the 2017 Fisheries byelaws.  In his new role he is playing catch-up and as such is ‘keeping his counsel’ on what went on before he took on the Inland Fisheries role. 

I have attached the agenda items we covered at the meeting, Luke took the minutes and as soon as I get these I will forward them to you.  I had printed several documents for the meeting including the two letters that Gary Davies (Merthyr AA) had sent to LG and HB, Julian read these and I passed them to Luke who said he had already received a copy.  I had believed for some time that LG had not read any of our letters and they simply get passed to the back office staff (Luke?) to draft a response which is then top and tailed by the Minister, probably without understanding the contents of the original letter or her response, hence the refusal to meet with us.  Perhaps we have been a bit naïve in believing that LG had read the letters and was taking a personal interest, I have always had my doubts, more so as Julian said that we must take up our issues with NRW.  Perhaps someone should ask their local AM to raise a question about this in the SENNED. 

The following are the responses to the agenda items:

  1. Evidence that the byelaws will reverse the decline in migratory fish  – Reduction in angling days/rod effort skewing results.

We discussed the lack of evidence that the byelaws (with or without legislation on agricultural pollution) would not reverse the decline in migratory fish.  The stock answer was the decline is due to marine conditions and climate change.  We demonstrated from the data that Mike Ashwin has produced that the reduction in angling effort has marked effect on the numbers of fish caught and the calculation of the conservation limits, we were told to take this up with NRW.

  1. Failure of WG to implement promised legislation on agricultural pollution – promises made by NRW under oath at the inquiry

Julian claims that the legislation has just been ‘postponed’ and that it will be implemented at some point in the future.

  1. Lax concern for the aquatic environment in planning applications for chicken farms e.g. Fron Bella farm

We discussed at some length the potential for the chicken farm on the headwaters of the upper Conwy to have a serious impact on water quality.  It was one of Julian’s projects to establish this upper spawning area once the Conwy falls fish pass was constructed in 1993.  I identified the fact that there was no concern for the aquatic environment during the planning approval process and that it was claimed by NRW that no EU species would be affected.  I was directed to take this up with NRW and I am in the process of doing this.  Julian asked if his work on habitat improvements had been successful and I have sent him the fish counts and our Trust 2014 report (see attached) to demonstrate what is now at risk should there be a pollution event from this chicken farm which is sited at 300 M at the top of the catchment (80 M above the Afon Nug a major tributary for the upper Conwy).  Despite the evidence of the increasing numbers of salmon and sea trout ascending the Conwy Falls the Conwy is classified as probably at risk, this is mainly due to the sites NRW electro fish which were damaged by recent floods (one site on the upper Conwy is now to deep to electro fish) it was just convenient to use the 2015 results to support the low fry and parr counts despite this being due to flood events.

  1. Inappropriate approval of hydro schemes 

At the last Fisheries Forum held in Carmarthen we had a presentation on HEP schemes (see attached, the slides on ‘spate clipping’ shows what happens on many HEP schemes) by Gideon Carpenter explaining the NRW guidance for licensing hydropower schemes and the technical background to the approach (the slides were used to support the talk by Gideon).  Julian referred to this presentation to demonstrate NRW is doing a good job!  I pointed out that existing schemes only need to ensure upstream passage of returning adults – the issue is about the downstream migration of smolts, the latest designs in the presentation should enable easier downstream migration but there are no plans for retro fitting existing schemes many of which simply used pre-existing weirs.  I will pursue this via the Fisheries Forum.

  1. Disturbance of spawning grounds by adventure activity.  Byelaws required to protect these areas, this is within the power of NRW

This something that I had worked on with Julian in 2012 who had produced the ‘know your rivers’ diagrams at the ‘put-ins’ used by paddlers on the Conwy – they ignored them!  I showed Julian the sign that had recently been put up by Gwynedd CC on the Afon y Bala which runs into Llyn Padarn.  We discussed the powers of NRW to introduce byelaws to restrict ‘boating’ under the Water Resources Act 1991 (Schedule 25 if you want to look it up).  Julian suggested that whilst byelaws are possible it may be more sensible to just have warning signs erected at spawning sites rather than introduce byelaws and all that this involves i.e. consultation and who the respondents will be which may not result in byelaws being passed.  Far better to get National Park or Local Authorities to put up warning signs this also gets around the planning permissions which are required for these signs.

  1. Lack of action on control of avian predation

Julian pointed out that there is already a committee looking at this the problem  The problem is there is no action yet but Julian put a lot of faith in Steve Ormerod taking positive action.  I will take this up at the Fisheries Forum.

  1. Failure of NRW to publish in full the 2020 byelaws

I pointed out that all that NRW has published are 2017 amendments to the 1995 Fisheries Byelaws.  The impression given on the NRW website is these are all anglers need to know and this is not the case.  The 1995 Byelaws are river specific and list fishing restrictions near obstructions on each river.  The impression at the moment is that the 1995 Byelaws have been revoked – this is not the case you need to refer to the confirmation by the Minister to see the sections which have been revoked.  I have already taken this up with NRW and will continue to pursue this.  I have attached the compendium of the byelaws which was produced in 2003 this was superseded in 2014 with the glossy brochure ‘A guide to anglers fishing in Wales’ both have now been removed from the NRW website.  NRW should publish the byelaws in their entirety for clarity of what and where we can fish the NRW excuse at the moment is that anything on the website must be ‘accessible’ to all.

  1. Lack of resource and funding within NRW to fulfil their statutory fisheries duties.

Julian said that NRW are now ‘outsourcing’ the river restoration work to Rivers Trusts via Afonydd Cymru due to their lack of in-house resource.  This has the support of WG.

  1. Reliance on self regulation as NRW do not have sufficient resource to enforce the byelaws

Julian was not aware of the reduction in enforcement staff.  We raised the level of poaching which is doing far more damage than anglers to the broodstock in Welsh rivers.  I was advised of one local poacher who declared he had taken 11 salmon from the Lledr he is just one of many poachers who operate with impunity on our North Wales rivers.  The intelligence lead approach (after the event!) does nothing to protect our fish stocks.  In terms of self regulation we pointed out that the majority were already returning all their fish but those who take fish will continue to do so as who is to stop them.

John raised the issue of the Dyfi Beaver Project explaining those who had attended meetings felt that this was being presented by the Welsh Beaver Project Officer (Alicia Leow-Dyke) as a fait accompli with no evidence of risk assessment or due regard to the interests of landowners or those with a vested interest in the river. It seems that the ‘re-wilding’ of Wales is a higher priority than reversing the decline in migratory fish stocks Luke said that this would not be the case.

To end on a positive note Julian asked if we had any comments on the Salmon and Sea Trout Plan Of Action, my only comment was we have seen promises of action over the past 20 years with nothing coming from them.  I suggested that what gets measured gets done and WG should appoint individual project mangers to oversee the work with clear deliverables and definitive time scales.  This seemed to fit what Julian thinks should be done, it remains to be seen how the Minister responds.

Chris

Foot note: I was at a Dee mitigation working group meeting yesterday.  A comment from one of the NRW fisheries officers claimed that there was no shortage of fish on the areas which have been ‘restored’ over the past few years the problem is these sites are not yet included in the annual assessment of fish stocks, I suspect the same may apply to other rivers which have undergone restoration.  This puts yet another question mark over the calculation of the conservation limits on rivers.  We may be catching fewer fish due to a reduction in fishing effort/river conditions and not a lack of fish!

Mike Ashwin Chairman NWATFCC to NRW (again)

North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council part of the Angling Trust and AT North West Freshwater Forum

9 th February 2020

Heidi Stone, EA Salmon Programme Manager Peter Gough, NRW Principal Fisheries Adviser Cc Dr Alan Walker, Cefas Senior Scientific Officer Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary, Welsh Assembly Government Mark Owen, Angling Trust Head of Freshwater Paul Knight, S&TCUK Chief Executive Officer Mark Bilsby, AST Chief Executive Officer Officers of NWATFCC, PAAS & CPWF Notification of National salmon review timetable & content re England & Wales River assessments and Byelaw Implementation

Dear Heidi & Peter,

I write as representative of the Salmon Anglers Advisory Group, Chairman of NWATFCC and on behalf of CPWF Campaign for Protection of Welsh Fisheries whose member rod fisheries and business interests hold and manage extensive migratory fisheries in England and Wales. There are as you know two national review processes that are now underway that rod fisheries were instrumental in lobbying for and are scheduled as EA, NRW & Cefas commitments. As yet we have received no prior notification regarding their proposed timetable, contents or point at which rod fisheries representatives will be invited to make their contributions. In letters to the Defra and Welsh Cabinet Ministers in April & Sept 2018, NWATFCC & CPWF made strong recommendations that the E & W national Byelaws should be deferred until the necessary improvements to revising stock assessments were agreed and incorporated into Byelaws and that interim conservation measures were introduced to enable those review processes to conclude with agreement by all parties. In the case of the ongoing national Rod Exploitation Rate review, I was informed in April 2019 that invitations would be circulated, but these have not arrived. Those recommendations to Ministers, made through Mark Lloyd of the Angling Trust were to prevent the situation that now confronts us – that revision and activation of necessary rod exploitation rates are being “held” to prevent exposure to historic stock assessments that might be considered unsafe in framing conservation measure justifications in the current national Byelaws. There is the means to overcome the logjam that is blocking urgently required stock revisions and we must not remain blind to this. NWATFCC & CPWF have formally notified the EA, NRW & Cefas that the provisional 2018 assessments released in June 2019 require revision and we could not accept these until the rod exploitation rate review incorporated corrections in “final“ 2018 published reports. We have asked, but received no confirmation of the progress of the final assessments or what the status of individual river stocks are as regards the original provisional stock report. We have also submitted detailed proposals as part of drafting of the NASCO 2019 – 24 IP Improvements to Stock reporting, River Classification and Decision measures. A summary of the subject headings rod fisheries would wish to engage with within the reviews is set out below and supported by reports containing detailed analysis, modelling, alternate methodology and stock reporting proposals; 1. National Rod Exploitation Rate (RER) review  EA & NRW proposals to improve capture of angler rod catch & species rod effort  EA & NRW proposed methodology for estimating individual river RER`s and elements – rod effort, River flows & salmon runs ( timing re rod season and cyclical frequency)  Rod fisheries analysis & modelling – Prof Brian Revell`s research & findings  Managing Rivers with inadequate rod catch data  Index river validated outputs as linked River reference RER applications  Implementation of annual reviews in annual stock assessment procedures 2. NASCO 2019 – 24 IP Improvements Review a) Conservation Limit  CL as a single conservation reference point  Resetting CL in revising SAP`s b) Annual River assessment of egg depositions to CL  Rod catch and under reporting estimates  Age/weight proportions determining ISW/MSW – Index River estimates  Fecundity values & mortality estimates  Use of existing River stock performance as percentile to CL  Proposed River Fisheries report KPI`s c) River Classification  Fault lines & weakness in current 15 year Linear regression methodology  Adoption of alternate & transparent methodology  Transparent River stock performance as actual percentile MAT to CL in classification status bands  Use of Juvenile data to support stock health assessments  System validation  Opportunities for improved stock performance reporting  Integration and harmonisation of a single UK mainland Conservation strategy d) Decision Process  Transparent River measures process based on River Classification status  Annual River Status review & application of C & R measures  Flexibility to change targets and breakpoints We would welcome a positive response to this communication as part of an inclusive and progressive approach to improving reporting of stocks and applying long term conservation strategies in the national review phase. We very much hope this can be responded to as a joint EA & NRW communication for reasons that both organisations and jurisdictions have shared stock reporting system procedures and commitments in the planned reviews.

With regards

Mike Ashwin Chairman NWATFCC North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council The Barn, Skirwith, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1RH Tel 01768 879047 mob 07926 489764

Mike Ashwin Chairman NWATFCC North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council to Lesley Griffiths

North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council part of the Angling Trust and AT North West Freshwater Forum

8 th February 2020

To: Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary, Welsh Assembly Government

Correspondence.Lesley.griffiths@gov.wales

Cc Peter Gough, NRW Principal Fisheries Adviser Heidi Stone, EA Salmon Programme Manager Mark Owen, Angling Trust Head of Freshwater Paul Knight, S&TCUK Chief Executive Officer Mark Bilsby, AST Chief Executive Officer Officers of NWATFCC, PAAS & CPWF Approval of Cross border Welsh Dee & Wye byelaws & Implementation of All Wales Byelaws

Dear Lesley,

Thank you for your letter of the 4th February 2020 and with it, comments and clarification of the Cross Border approval decision process. We note your approval of these Byelaws on the 29th January, the day after receiving our request to carefully review this intended action and our strong recommendation to introduce interim arrangements until the two imminent national (NRW, EA & Cefas) stock review processes are concluded. We find it difficult to comprehend this decision in the light of the information we provided and questions we have raised over the Welsh Dee Index river methodology and outputs that determine other Welsh river stocks. The national England & Wales Stock reporting and Assessment system may have been found to be “Fit for Purpose” at the local Inquiry by the Planning Inspector. But I can assure you, it is certainly not fit for purpose, has not undergone validation when introduced in 2004 or subsequently been QA reviewed since that time. The substance and scope of the two national review processes testify to that and we anticipate the system will undergo major overhaul which will make historic assessments unsafe. I refer you to NWATFCC correspondence (attached) with NRW, EA & Cefas that sets out the vision of those improvements that rod fisheries expect to see addressed in the NASCO 2019 – 24 IP and separate national Rod exploitation rate review. 2020 enacted Byelaws carry a penalty that 5 year mid-term review arrangements will lag 3-4 years behind these national review improvement implementations. The enforceability of the All Wales byelaws is a major and unforeseen consideration and Cross Border Rivers, where E & W national measures are not aligned and diametrically opposed pose additional complexity and resource allocation that is not available. This at a time when stocks will be threatened by increased poaching activity through reducing angler presence and supervision. In view of the significant impact the All Wales and Cross Border Byelaws are expected to have on migratory licence sales and rod effort, and here we are anticipating a 25% – 35% reduction in 2020 on top of a 40% – 50% reduction in both over the last 9 years,

NWATFCC , PAAS & CPWF are now taking legal advice over the approval of the Cross Border byelaws.

With kind regards Mike Ashwin Chairman NWATFCC North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council The Barn, Skirwith, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1RH. Tel 01768 879047 mob 07926 489764

Chris White to Ceri Davis 17/1/20

Ceri,I note that you are a signatory on behalf of NRW on the attached 2018 protocol for the disposal of contaminated water.  I have real concerns on the disposal of wash water from poultry farms due to the impact of the disinfectant on the aquatic environment.  I expressed my concerns at the last Fisheries Forum about the approval of a planning application and construction of a 150,000 bird poultry farm at Fron Bella Farm, Hafod Denbigh, Conwy with approval for a further 75,000 birds (location slides attached).  This farm is at 300 m (984 ft) on the head waters of a major spawning tributary of the upper Conwy and is claimed to produce 7.1 Tonne of manure per year.  It is unclear from the permit for this farm how wash water will be disposed.  Assuming the use of Virkon S applied at the DEFRA dosing rate for poultry farms of 2.8Kg in 750 ltr (0.33 mg/ltr) to cover 2,300 sq m then for the two sheds (each shed is approx 2,000 sq m) it will take 1,500 ltr each time they are cleaned, this occurs 6 time per year producing at least 1,000 ltr of contaminated water for each wash (allowing for evaporation).  At this concentration (0.33 mg/ltr) any run-off into the surrounding fields will be lethal to aquatic invertebrates, the data sheet for Virkon S says 0.22 mg/ltr is lethal to aquatic invertebrates and 0.29 mg/ltr is lethal to terrestrial insects.  Should the wash water tank be emptied and then sprayed on the surround fields if will find its way into the Afon Nug and then Afon Merddwr both are spawning streams on the upper Conwy, it has taken 15 years to establish this spawning area.  In addition it is likely that this water if sprayed on fields will kill all field insects which will impact on field bird populations.Whilst my concern is for the potential impact from Fron Bella farm on the Conwy I suspect that the same will apply to all poultry farms in river valleys.  Can you please advise the policy from NRW/WG with respect to disposal of this contaminated water as it is included within protocol see page 5 item 3 Scope first bullet point.  

Regards

Chris White

Conservation officer: Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries (CPWF)

To Ceri Davies at NRW: thanks Chris

Ceri,

I note that you are a signatory on behalf of NRW on the attached 2018 protocol for the disposal of contaminated water.

I have real concerns on the disposal of wash water from poultry farms due to the impact of the disinfectant on the aquatic environment.

I expressed my concerns at the last Fisheries Forum about the approval of a planning application and construction of a 150,000 bird poultry farm at Fron Bella Farm, Hafod Denbigh, Conwy with approval for a further 75,000 birds (location slides attached). This farm is at 300 m (984 ft) on the head waters of a major spawning tributary of the upper Conwy and is claimed to produce 7.1 Tonne of manure per year. It is unclear from the permit for this farm how wash water will be disposed. Assuming the use of Virkon S applied at the DEFRA dosing rate for poultry farms of 2.8Kg in 750 ltr (0.33 mg/ltr) to cover 2,300 sq m then for the two sheds (each shed is approx 2,000 sq m) it will take 1,500 ltr each time they are cleaned, this occurs 6 time per year producing at least 1,000 ltr of contaminated water for each wash (allowing for evaporation). At this concentration (0.33 mg/ltr) any run-off into the surrounding fields will be lethal to aquatic invertebrates, the data sheet for Virkon S says 0.22 mg/ltr is lethal to aquatic invertebrates and 0.29 mg/ltr is lethal to terrestrial insects. Should the wash water tank be emptied and then sprayed on the surround fields if will find its way into the Afon Nug and then Afon Merddwr both are spawning streams on the upper Conwy, it has taken 15 years to establish this spawning area. In addition it is likely that this water if sprayed on fields will kill all field insects which will impact on field bird populations.

Whilst my concern is for the potential impact from Fron Bella farm on the Conwy I suspect that the same will apply to all poultry farms in river valleys. Can you please advise the policy from NRW/WG with respect to disposal of this contaminated water as it is included within protocol see page 5 item 3 Scope first bullet point.

Regards

Chris White

Conservation officer: Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries (CPWF)

NRW Newsletter Spring 2020

The link to the Newsletter, which gives details of NRW’s fishery related works, is located under the Newsletter Tab

The Minister agrees her team to meet John and Chris: congratulations on persistence chaps and good luck

Lesley Griffiths AC/AM

Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs

Eich cyf/Your ref

Ein cyf/Our ref LG/7611/19 Chris White

Llywodraeth Cymru Welsh Government

chriswhite.cohite@gmail.com

Ni                          January 2020

Thank you for your letters of 10 and 13 December, regarding your ongoing concerns about my decision to approve the All Wales byelaws (AWB) and my recent decision to delay the proposed introduction of regulatory measures to address agricultural pollution pending further consideration.

Whilst I understand you are not happy with the recommendations of the Local Inquiry and my resulting decision to confirm the AWB, I am content these byelaws were carefully scrutinised as part of the impartial Local Inquiry process and all parties were given the chance to put forward their views. The inspector’s recommendation report confirmed the Natural Resources Wales’ byelaw proposals were necessary, proportionate and reasonable in view of the decline of salmon and sea trout stocks throughout Wales and alternative voluntary measures would not be suitable.

I’ve taken the decision to delay the proposed introduction of regulatory measures to address agricultural pollution, to enable me to consider all the evidence provided by the Farming Unions and wider stakeholders before I take a final decision. However, this is not a valid reason to defer the AWB coming into force, as all additional fish returned alive under the new compulsory regulations, will help contribute to the recovery of salmon and sea trout stocks. The AWB for salmon and sea trout will come into force on 1 January 2020.

As you know, I have also asked NRW to put together a Plan of Action (PoA) for salmon and sea trout. The PoA aims to set out all the current work being carried out by various parties to combat the issues impacting upon our fish stocks, as well as identify any gaps and new actions. Reversing the decline of salmon and sea trout stocks will be a challenge and the PoA will only be successful if everyone with an interest in salmon and sea trout contributes. Therefore, I am glad you are working closely with NRW as part of the Wales Fisheries Forum, to try and help reverse the decline in stocks.

I am aware Fish Eating Birds, ‘in river’ loss of smolts and Enforcement were all issues raised in the inquiry and therefore anticipate these issues will be addressed in the plan. With

Bae Caerdydd • Cardiff Bay

Caerdydd  • Cardiff

CF99 1NA

Canolfan Cyswllt Cyntaf / First Point of Contact Cent re :

0300 0604400

Gohebiaeth.Lesley . Griffi ths@ll yw.cymru Corresp ondence.Lesley .Gri ff it hs@gov. wales

Rydym yn croesawu derbyn gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg . Byddwn yn ateb gohebiaeth a dderbynnir yn Gymraeg yn Gymraeg ac ni fydd gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

We welcome receiving correspondence in Welsh.  Any correspondence received in  Welsh will be answered in  Welsh and corresponding in Welsh will not lead to a delay in responding.

regard to Enforcement I will discuss the meeting which took place in Bala with Ms Pillman and consider any points which were raised.

In the meantime, I understand there has been further exchanges with NRW about the methodology used for assessing stock levels and I can confirm they will be responding on this matter in due course.

I have recently been in contact with your associate Mr Eardley and offered him the opportunity to meet my officials to discuss any further concerns about restoring salmon and sea trout stocks. I would like to extend this invitation to you and ask if you would like to accompany Mr Eardley to meet with my officials to discuss your concerns about both agricultural regulations and salmonid fish. If you would like to take up this offer please contact:

Julian Bray, Head of Domestic Fisheries Policy and Management 03000 625605 I Julian.Bray2@gov.wales

Subject:River stock management improvements & Prof Revell research study of Severn/Dee rod catch. Thanks to Mike Ashwin

From: Mike Ashwin
Sent: 02 January 2020 15:07
To: Stone, Heidi <heidi.stone@environment-agency.gov.uk>; Talks, Lawrence <lawrence.talks@environment-agency.gov.uk>; simon toms <simon.toms@environment-agency.gov.uk>; brian shields <brian.shields@environment-agency.gov.uk>; Bainger, Chris <chris.bainger@environment-agency.gov.uk>; Gough, Peter <Peter.Gough@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk>; Mee, David <David.Mee@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk>; Davidson, Ian <Ian.Davidson@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk>
Cc:alan.walker@cefas.co.uk <alan.walker@cefas.co.uk>
 ​Dear colleagues,

This communication is circulated to lead EA & NRW managers/advisers and will be forwarded to EFG & WFF representatives involved in ongoing Byelaw/Stock management dialogue, authors of key elements of River stock reporting methodology and rod fisheries groups.   It expresses the direction of engagement and collaboration rod fisheries have been seeking in shared areas of improved salmon stock management, and our ongoing actions to secure this. It is sent for reasons that usual channels of communication have become truncated and locked during Byelaw and system review process. 

A small group of rod fisheries individuals has been engaged in developing and communicating these improvements:

1.   In the first instance, forming and making recommendations to Defra & Welsh Cabinet Ministers in letters of 9th April & 17th Sept 2018 presented by Mark Lloyd of the AT on behalf of NWATFCC & CPWF. Those recommendations being part of  E & W National Byelaw “processes” and set out specific rod fisheries requests that :

  •  a national rod exploitation rate review take place to report on seasonal factors influencing rod catch and river spawning estimates and incorporate as annual revising river estimates for assessment purposes.
  •  for improvements to angler rod catch reporting systems & River stock reporting procedures.
  • for validation and periodic QA review of the  of the River Classification system 
  • steps are taken to “re-introduce” a harmonised E & W stock reporting, classification, decision structure process.
  •  that interim (three year) E & W voluntary rod C & R measures are agreed and introduced to enable these review/improvement processes to be concluded and steer delivery of common Byelaw proposals. In hindsight adoption of this would have forestalled the contested positions we now find ourselves defending.  

2.   In communicating the reasons for improvements and recommendations by NWATFCC & CPWF to current system procedures as part of submissions to the drafting of the NASCO 2019 – 24 Implementation Plan. If EFG & WFF representatives are not aware of these, then I recommend those are made available.The recommendations set out fundamental change to outdated SAP and CL annual estimates, calculation of annual estimates to incorporate seasonal factors in rod catch, current River status methodology and decision processes. And a much longer term vision to harmonising and creating a common UK mainland conservation policy (England, Wales & Scotland). These involve extracting elements of our reporting and assessment procedures that were introduced in 2004 without validation or periodic QA review. And adoption of a Scottish style annual assessment review and river status/rod exploitation measure approach based on five year average or mean attainment to CL target.

3.    New analytical and modelling techniques have been explored and developed for determining rod catch and run size estimates and the influence of principal factors that are presently contributing to inaccurate and uncertain River status “predictions or forecasts”.  Emeritus Professor Brian Revell has lead that work and NW & Welsh rod fisheries have received papers on regional and individual River analysis of rod catch and simulations of changes to rod effort, river flows & cyclical patterns of 1SW/MSW. Brian`s work history is listed on page 3. The study explores two rivers, the Severn & Welsh Dee that are the subject of separate dialogue taking place with the EA & NRW that I am directing on behalf of PAAS & CPWF. The study provides a refreshing examination and in depth reasoned academic interpretation of factors effecting changing rod catch and ultimately run estimates. Something that has been missing in recent Byelaw consultation exchanges.   The same analytical and modelling principles (given data source) could be applied to historic and predicted catch and run size estimates from threats and pressures that appear to fall below the radar as far as actually assessing stock impact.These might include rising ocean temperature, food source depletion, pelagic trawler impact, damage from aquaculture expansion and ingress from predation populations.

4.    A new proposed format of accessible on-line River reporting data. This is currently being circulated to rod fisheries groups for consideration and comment. We would like to bring this forward as part of improvements to provide transparent and informed stock assessment data which will enable fisheries managers and national advisers to better track changes to applied estimates and rod catch/spawning assessments and trends.

 A considerable amount of time has been spent in the last 12 -18 months in non productive exchanges as  rod fisheries representatives sought acknowledgement of the need for improvement to systems and accuracy of historic assessments. 

 We would welcome a more progressive period of engagement and collaboration on systems and policy development, where our recommendations and research can and should be complimenting proposed review process and within communicated timetables. I have recommended to the Angling Trust that a small rod fisheries group is formed to present and review proposals.

This communication is for information purposes, unless further clarification or confirmation of progress is appropriate.

With best regards,  Mike Ashwin
Chairman NWATFCC  North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council  

  • NOTE from the editor. If you would like a copy of the report please email 1highplains@gmail.com and I will send you a .pdf

Chris White to Minister

President

Allan Cuthbert Email: 1highplains@gmail.com

Strategy Officer

John Eardley Email: johneardley@btinternet.com

Conservation Officer

Chris White

57 Normanby Drive Connahs Quay Flintshire

CH5 4JX

Email:chriswhite.cohite@gmail.com

Re: Written Statement: Agricultural Pollution Regulations

Dear Minister,

12 December 2019

I wrote to you on 10 December concerning the effect of the proposed fisheries byelaws on rural communities. I was alarmed to see that on 11 December you  issued a written statement with respect to Agricultural Pollution Regulations in which you say that in working with NFU Cymru to develop a water framework that this work “…has highlighted it may be possible to offer a more flexible approach based on earned autonomy to deliver the same outcomes compared to regulation”. I take it  that ‘earned autonomy’ means self regulation. This approach  is contrary to that  taken with respect to the proposed fisheries byelaws where alternative solutions offered during consultation were dismissed with NRW insisting that only legislation would achieve the desired result – it won’t.

It should also be noted that at the inquiry, under oath, we were promised Agricultural Pollution Regulations which would prevent the frequent pollution events we see on Welsh rivers and fish kills which far exceed any damage to fish stocks caused by angling. The inspector for the inquiry referred to this promise in his findings.

In line with your concession on agricultural pollution we would therefore request a deferment of the proposed byelaws to enable those few Welsh rivers which are not compliant with the NASCO recommendation of a voluntary 90% C&R to achieve this target i.e. “…earned autonomy to deliver the same outcome…”. Overall Welsh anglers achieve 86% C&R with many rivers meeting or exceeding the NASCO 90% release rate through voluntary measures. We have continually drawn your attention to the major reason for the decline in migratory fish stocks and this is not due to angling. Perhaps you can extend the courtesy of meeting with us so you may fully understand our concerns something which you seem to have done with NFU Cymru.

Regards

On behalf of: Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries cc Mark Drakeford – First Minister

CPWF has the support of freshwater and sea anglers in Wales.

Visit our website at www.cpwf.co.uk

John Eardley persists: Thanks John

President

Allan Cuthbert Email: 1highplains@gmail.coo.uk

Strategy Officer

John Eardley

c/o Vanner Farm & Caravan Site Llanelltyd

Dolgellau Gwynedd LL40 2HE

Email: johneardley@btinternet.com

Conservation Officer

Chris White Email:chriswhite.cohite@gmail.com

9th December 2019

Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM National Assembly for Wales Cardiff Bay

Cardiff CF99 1NA

By email to: Dafydd.Elis-Thomas@assembly.wales

Copies to:

Charlie Abbott – Riparian Owner, Garreg Arw, Afon Mawddach

Hywel Bromley Davenport – Riparian Owner,

Bryncemlyn & Gelligemlyn, Afon Mawddach

Meirion Hughes – Riparian Owner, Felin Newydd, Afon Wnion

Gavin Jones – Secretary, Dolgellau Angling Association

Andy Strickland – Secretary, Prince Albert Angling Society

Dear Dafydd,

I was proud to represent the majority of the angling interests on the Afon Mawddach & Afon Wnion at the All Wales Fishing Byelaws Inquiry held in January and March of this year and am writing to you on behalf of those same angling stakeholders today.

Key evidence presented by the Objectors at the Inquiry was ignored by the Inspector and this led to his report finding in favour of Natural Resources Wales and as a result the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs made a decision to confirm the Byelaws which are due to come into force on 1st January 2020.

Last week I attended a joint meeting of the Dee & Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Groups at Yr Hwb, Bala at which Clare Pillman, CEO of Natural Resources Wales, was also present.

The meeting brought into sharp focus the reality of the situation that we are now facing. The enforcement officer responsible for North West Wales reported that the current situation is a disaster with most of his team gone. Goodwill has been lost and experienced staff who have left have taken their expert knowledge with them. He stated that he had never known anything like this with 45% of the reported incidents in Wales since July being from North West Wales and only 2 staff available to cover the whole area. He made a desperate plea to those present for help. Unfortunately attendance at these meetings has been dwindling for some time with many representatives feeling disenfranchised when their legitimate concerns

CPWF has the support of freshwater and sea anglers in Wales.

Visit our website at www.cpwf.co.uk

are dismissed by senior fisheries staff. As a result there was nobody present from nearby rivers including the Dyfi, Dwyfawr and Glaslyn to hear his plea whilst many of those who were present have become so disaffected that they will not go out of their way to help.

The chair of the Dee Fisheries Association reported that poachers are netting the Dee estuary with impunity now that NRW are unable to carry out boat patrols. We have the utmost respect for NRW’s hardworking Enforcement Officers but they simply cannot cope in the current climate.

Given that NRW’s figures demonstrate that a maximum of 2 salmon in every hundred in Wales (10 out of 500 in the case of the Mawddach & Wnion) is the somewhat paltry number that will be saved by the All Wales Byelaws we are now facing a disaster since fewer anglers means less of a deterrent, less intelligence for enforcement officers, increased poaching and the loss of considerably more spawning salmon than is currently the case. In short the Byelaws are counterproductive. Today NRW are in receipt of documents which pose a serious challenge to the salmon stock assessments used to inform the All Wales, Cross Border Dee & Wye and Severn Emergency Byelaws and which indicate that stocks are being considerably underestimated by the current methodology.

It was also reported at the meeting that the Wales Fisheries Forum and its associated Plan of Action for salmon and sea trout will do nothing to restore our stocks of migratory fish. Those of us who are in opposition to the byelaws are working as conservationists looking to protect our fisheries, and assist in restoring the stocks of salmon and sea trout in our rivers.

NRW has previously informed us that those anglers who release all of the fish they catch “will note little difference under the new regime”. This is not true. A significant number of anglers, local and visiting alike, no longer fish when Mandatory Catch & Release is introduced and as a result clubs lose both members and revenue. As a result they can no longer afford to rent some of their waters and those who wish to continue fishing “under the new regime” are denied access. The very future of smaller community based angling clubs, together with the angling tourism that they support, is very much under threat.

We are at crisis point and failure to take a step back and assess fully the current situation will see Welsh Government preside over an unmitigated disaster for our stocks of migratory fish and the fisheries which they support. We seek your support in achieving that aim.

Should you require further supportive evidence, or wish to discuss the matter further, please do not hesitate to get in touch by either email or telephone.

Yours sincerely

John Eardley

Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Group Representative, Prince Albert Angling Society Strategy Officer, Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries