Crackdown on fish poaching in Wales nets 139 arrests

This article from the BBC speaks for itself. AS for us at the Campaign: great news and well done NRW!!!!

SalmonIllegal fishing on Wales’ rivers has ‘far-reaching consequences,’ says Natural Resources Wales

A crackdown on fish poaching across Wales has seen 139 people prosecuted in the first four months of the year, says Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

The legal action has seen those involved fined £18,000 in total.

On Tuesday two men were the latest arrests for illegal fishing, after being found on a dinghy with a net on the River Usk in Monmouthshire.

But officials say the issue is a problem across Wales, and threatens an angling industry worth £150m a year.

Since the start of the year, individuals have been caught fishing illegally or poaching from the Loughor estuary in west Wales to the Menai Strait in Gwynedd and the River Dee in Flintshire.

NRW said its biggest concern was “foul hooking”, which involves dragging hooks through the water at high speed in an attempt to impale fish.

Tourism ‘draw’

This often leaves more fish damaged and dying in the river than are brought to shore, a spokesperson said.

The fish most threatened are wild salmon and sea trout.

The spokesperson said: “Illegal fishing has far-reaching consequences as angling is worth more than £150m to the Welsh economy.

“Illegal anglers can damage the whole ecology of a river as well as impacting on angling as a sport.

“Angling helps protect the environment and is a big draw for tourism.

“It’s important that we continue to crack down on illegal fishing activity so that it remains sustainable for licensed fisherman.”

But no reference to the need to seed the rivers, so no hatcheries?

Wednesay 30th July 2014

Wild Salmon Stocks Crash – Angling and Fisheries Organisations Call for Urgent Government Action

Following official figures showing the worst estimates of salmon stocks on record, a coalition of concerned angling, fisheries and conservation groups has written to Government Fisheries Minister George Eustice and to his counterpart Edwina Hart in the Welsh Assembly Government, to demand urgent implementation of a five point action plan to halt the sharp decline in salmon stocks in England and Wales.

The Angling Trust, Angling Cymru, Afonydd Cymru, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fish Legal, The Rivers Trust, and Salmon & Trout Association have urged the Government to take the five remedial actions that are urgently needed to restore stocks of this iconic species to English and Welsh rivers and protect them for future generations.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) Annual Assessment of Salmon Stocks and Fisheries in England and Wales in 2013 estimates that only 19 of the principal 64 salmon rivers in England and Wales reached their conservation targets; compared to 42 in 2011. This is the equal lowest number since conservation targets were introduced in 1993. Overall, the number of salmon estimated to be returning to England and Wales in the last two years was amongst the lowest on record.

The report does not expect a significant improvement in stock levels. Since the 1970s there has been a 40% decline in the number of salmon returning to our rivers each year, despite the much-publicised return of salmon to previously polluted rivers such as the Tyne and Mersey.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: ”These figures, coupled with reports from our members, are very worrying for the future of salmon and the angling sector which supports thousands of jobs. As the report makes clear, the decline in stocks is probably mostly due to reduced sea survival, but in that context the government must do everything possible around our coasts and in our rivers to minimise threats to salmon. The Environment Agency must work closely with organisations such as the Marine Management Organisation and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities on an integrated approach to protect and restore migratory fish stocks.

Ivor Llewelyn, Atlantic Salmon Trust’s Director (England & Wales), said: ”Environmental factors are a key reason why salmon stocks are not recovering on many of our rivers, and action to address these, within the wider framework of policies to conserve the environment, is essential. In addition, on rivers with declining stocks we need to ensure that as many salmon as possible survive to spawn by reducing the numbers of fish killed, both legally and illegally.

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of the Salmon & Trout Association, said: ”Many of the actions that we are advocating will not only benefit salmon. Reducing abstraction and agricultural pollution and restoring river habitats will all benefit the wider aquatic ecosystem, in which salmon play a key role, as well as a wide range of other species. They will also benefit the economy in a number or rural areas, bearing in mind the often substantial economic value of salmon fisheries.

Arlin Rickard, Chief Executive Officer of The Rivers Trust, said: ”While we are calling for more money to be spent on salmon conservation in general, however many of the key measures necessary are not in themselves costly. Delivery of habitat improvement schemes through greater use of third sector partnerships and better co-operation between the Environment Agency own departments will enable existing funding to be used more effectively. We also urgently need a joined up package of measures, including advice and grants, to help farmers improve farm practices to address the widespread problem of agricultural pollution.

More info and Photocalls:
Bankside broadcast interviews and Photocalls can be arranged via:
Mark Lloyd (Wye or Usk Valleys): 07973 468 198
Paul Knight (Rivers Test, Itchen or Hampshire Avon): 07711 560 572
Arlin Rickard (Devon and Cornwall): 07906 141 420
Ivor Llewelyn, Atlantic Salmon Trust: 07894 434 053

Notes to Editors:
The letters to Ministers and associated notes can be downloaded HERE.

The Coalition is calling for five key areas where the Government needs to take action as a matter of urgency:
1. Fish Passage: The Government needs to speed up action to remove or bypass barriers, and to introduce the long delayed Fish Passage Regulations as soon as possible.

Obstacles to the upstream and downstream migration of salmon remain a significant threat. While progress has been made in recent years via programmes introduced under the auspices of the Water Framework Directive, a great deal remains to be done. Barriers to the downstream migration of smolts pose a particular, and often under-rated, threat.

2. Abstraction: The Government and the water industry need to take the action necessary to maintain adequate flows in all rivers with stocks of migratory salmonids.

River flows are crucial to salmon migration, both to and from the sea. Without adequate flows, recent research indicates that mortalities of smolts and adults may be very high. Natural variations in flows have been exacerbated by climate change, but abstraction can add significantly to the problem.

3. Agricultural Pollution: Measures are needed to ensure that all farmers follow best practice, through raising awareness and targeted use of incentives. These must be supplemented by stronger regulatory action against those who fail to comply.

Pollution caused by agricultural activities has long been recognised as a problem for many salmon rivers. One key issue is the drainage from farmland during increasingly frequent incidents of high rainfall. Flood peaks are higher and colossal quantities of silt are being washed into rivers which can clog the river bed, preventing spawning or, where this has taken place, killing salmon eggs.

4. Physical habitat: Funding for river restoration work should be increased, and allocated directly to third sector delivery bodies such as rivers trusts.

More needs to be done to restore degraded rivers. A good deal is being done under the Water Framework Directive, but in salmon rivers actions need to be more focused on salmon, given the decline in stocks. This is, of course, not something that we expect the Government to achieve on its own; land and fisheries owners, NGOs and anglers all have a part to play. Third-sector delivery bodies such as rivers trusts are not only more cost-effective than Government agencies, but are also able a to lever further extra resources from European funds, charitable trusts, the public, anglers, fisheries owners etc..

5. Exploitation: A limit on the maximum number of fish that can be taken in the North-East coast net fisheries each year, should now be introduced. Major steps have been taken in recent years to reduce exploitation i.e. the numbers of salmon killed in rod and net fisheries and illegally, but more needs to be done.

The net catch of salmon in 2013 was more than double that in 2012, and 24% above the average for the previous five years. The vast majority of these were taken in the North-East coast fisheries. This was in a year when overall salmon numbers, and rod catches, fell, and it is clear that net fisheries took a much greater proportion of a reduced stock.

Continuing high net catches pose two particular risks:

  1. in poor years there is an increased possibility that mixed stock fisheries will take a disproportionate number of fish from a vulnerable stock;
  2. they make it more difficult to convince those in Greenland and the Faroes, and increasingly in Ireland, that restrictions on fishing for salmon in their waters should be retained. Not unreasonably, they ask why they should curb distant water mixed stock fisheries when we are permitting large numbers of salmon to be taken in ones in home waters.

On vulnerable rivers the Environment Agency should consider making catch and release compulsory, as has been done on the Wye, and introducing constraints on fishing techniques that reduce a salmon’s chances of survival when released.
While we welcome and have encouraged the record level of catch and release achieved in 2013, this may not be enough on some rivers.

The Environment Agency must retain adequate numbers of fisheries enforcement staff, and the Agency and IFCAs be encouraged to work together to improve the protection of salmon and sea trout in estuaries and coastal waters.

Illegal fishing continues to pose a threat to salmon and sea trout. It is therefore very regrettable that the Environment Agency is apparently planning to make drastic cuts in its enforcement staff. There are also problems in estuaries and coastal waters, where changes introduced by the Marine and Coastal Access Act have led to confusion about the respective responsibilities of the Environment Agency and IFCAs.

 

Read this email in your web browser: here

Link to National Wildlife Crime Unit added

See useful links above

Fish Legal at the CLS Game Fair

Click on the Angling Trust tab above for more details.

Know your rivers: latest updates added. Click Know your Rivers tab above

A young angler poses with his first salmon, after which the fish was returned

The NRW have now issued the 2013 assessments of the “Know Your River” statistics complied from the 2013 catch returns and other related figures. This may sound boring and of little interest BUT IT IS NOT. I URGE YOU TO LOOK AT THE DETAILS OF YOUR OWN RIVER SYSTEM, there you will find in plain language the stark details of the state of your Salmon and sea trout stocks. A number state that salmon stocks are at risk and predicted to decline in future. We can no longer afford to be just anglers, we have also to be conservationists otherwise our children and grandchildren may never witness the sight of a salmon leaping or the excitement of hooking one.

Information on how to apply for funds from the £6m Nature Fund.

 

Please click on the link below to access the Welsh Governments programme of meetings to discuss bidding for the fund

Cyfoeth newsletter Feb 2014.pdf

Fishing Wales Survey

Please pass on the following link to any club committee member you know or to members of syndicates that have water in Wales. I have no doubt that figures gathered here will end up forming statistics about angling.  Thank yoiu

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FishingWales

Anglers Welcome Government Decision Not to Impose Unfettered Access to Rivers in Wales

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Anglers Welcome Government Decision Not to Impose Unfettered Access to Rivers in Wales

Anglers and countryside organisations are delighted that the Welsh Government has shelved its plans to impose universal access for canoes to rivers in Wales.  The Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths announced on Friday that the Government has no intention of pursuing primary legislation in this assembly term and that it will continue to support Voluntary Access Agreements.

When Mr Griffiths announced the review of legislation relating to access and outdoor recreation last July he said that he had not ruled out legislating to allow anyone to canoe wherever and whenever they choose.  This prompted a wide range of angling and countryside organisations to launch the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC).  Leaders of these groups have made detailed representations to the Welsh Assembly and to Government and hundreds of anglers and angling clubs have written to their Assembly Members and Ministers to highlight the damage that unfettered access could do to fish and fishing.

The organisations welcome the commitment to Voluntary Access Agreements, which allow riparian owners to set out the times of year and heights of water when canoeing will be allowed on the rivers that they own.  There have been numerous examples in Wales, and in England, of these agreements being drafted but the canoeing governing bodies have refused to sign them because they don’t offer access at all times.  The canoeing governing bodies have also provided public information which encourages people to go canoeing where they have no lawful right to do so, by suggesting that the law is not clear about access to water.

SACC is now calling on the canoeing organisations to work constructively to support the government’s commitment to voluntary access agreements and to stop issuing incorrect information to the public, which is causing widespread unlawful canoeing.

SACC will also continue to press for the registration of canoes so that offenders can be more easily identified from the riverbank.  The organisations believe that this registration is essential if voluntary access agreements are to be enforced.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “Angling clubs and individuals have collectively paid hundreds of millions of pounds to buy and lease access to fishing in Wales and everyone at the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru is delighted that the Welsh Assembly Government has backed away from allowing canoeists to paddle wherever and whenever they please.  We are very grateful for all the support we have received from thousands of individuals and organisations throughout the UK.”
He added:
“Many river owners are willing to permit canoeing on their waters as long as it does not damage the environment or get in the way of existing legitimate uses of the water, such as fishing, which makes a significant contribution to the economy and conservation of the water environment.  To achieve more access for canoes, we now need to see the canoeing governing bodies working with us to agree voluntary access agreements which allow canoeing with some reasonable restrictions, rather than refusing to sign them as they have in the past.  The BCU must also immediately stop publishing inaccurate and disingenuous information about the law relating to navigation.”

Rachel Evans, Director for Wales of the Countryside Alliance said: “I welcome the statement made by the Minister and am pleased that the voice of anglers has been heard loud and clear in Cardiff Bay. Angling is a significant contributor to the Welsh economy and there is much that can be done without going down a complex legislative route. It is now up to others who want to use the rivers responsibly for other uses to come forward and be part of the negotiations with angling clubs and riparian and landowners across Wales.”

Tony Rees, Chairman of Angling Cymru said: “Angling has long had a firm relation with landowners and farmers and respected their legal property rights.  Many Associations around Wales had excellent voluntary agreements in place that worked.  Our member clubs are still working to reinstate these and will continue to do so.”

Notes to Editors
1. The Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC) was founded by Angling Cymru, Angling Trust, Country Land & Business Association, Countryside Alliance, Fish Legal and the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association.  It has raised more than £10,000 in donations from angling clubs and individuals.  More information here: www.accesscymru.org

2. The statement from Welsh Government is available here: http://wales.gov.uk/about/cabinet/cabinetstatements/2014/accessoutdoorrecreation/?lang=en

Ends

Police are to take over protection of our fisheries?

We have taken the unusual steps of putting this Angling Trust news release on the front page, they are usually included under the PUBLICATIONS/ANGLING TRUST tabs

30.04.14

Salmon poaching gear IMPORTANT: Code for Theft of Fishing Rights: 116/11

Quote this code when reporting incidents of Fishing Without Permission to the Police
Read why below…

Fishing without permission is a Schedule 1 Theft Act 1968, and therefore criminal, offence. It is not the Environment Agency’s (EA) responsibility to deal with this but that of the police. Understandably, this is not an area of law in which police officers are generally trained, so the Angling Trust are in the early stages of liaising with all 43 forces to educate officers regarding their responsibility. To date, we have concentrated, due to VBS and Operation CLAMPDOWN 2 (OCD2), on forces in SE England, all of which are engaged on joint VBS/EA/police patrols in that region and in support of OCD2. Indeed, a Hampshire Police officer recently checked, purely coincidentally, one of our Area Coordinator’s licenses; this was very encouraging, but unfortunately the police’s overall understanding remains inconsistent. In an effort to resolve this, last year the Angling Trust uploaded the ‘Elementary Guide to Angling Law & Fisheries Enforcement’ to the Police Online Knowledge Area (POLKA) – making this simple guide available to every police officer in England. This, however, relies upon an officer searching that database for information, so the upload is not a cure-all. We now, however, have one – and hence why we need your help.

Every offence which the police are duty bound to deal with has a unique Home Office Code. We now have the Code for Theft of Fishing Rights: 116/11. If, therefore, anglers quote this when reporting incidents, the police will understand that they must deal with the matter, rather than misinterpret the situation as a civil matter and/or attempt to pass the job over to the EA. Provision of the Code will mean that from the initial stage the call taker will understand that this is a police matter, and police officers responding can check the relevant instructions.

Finally, and in addition to the good news above, we have had a recent result with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). One of our fishery owner members was the victim in such a case of fishing without permission, which the police duly processed, but at court the CPS lawyer completely misunderstood the Theft of Fishing Rights offence and discontinued those proceedings. Acting upon our advice, said member complained to the CPS. Gerry Wareham, the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor, recently acknowledged the error, apologised, and instructed all CPS lawyers to proceed with such cases – and if in doubt liaise with Andrew Vaughan, the Lead Prosecutor. This really is a major step forward.

Dilip Sarkar MBE
Fisheries Enforcement Manager
Angling Trust

NRW consultation regarding closure of all hatcheries

 

 

Have you submitted your response yet? You cab see ours by clicking on the OUR RESPONSES tab.

Please respond yourself: closing date is soon!

Mink survey

On 18 March 2014 13:46, Field Assistant <field.assistant@welshwildlife.org> wrote:

Hello,

 I’m working for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, in collaboration with NRW, to try and collect information on where and when American Mink have been seen in Wales. This is so we can have an idea of Mink distribution, which will help us with Water Vole conservation work.

I was wondering if you’d be able to help? If you do have any mink records they would be greatly appreciated, but if not, then perhaps you might consider putting up a little request on your website newsfeed, to request that any of your readers could tell us if they’ve seen a Mink?

Many thanks.

Lorna

Lorna Baggett Field Assistant    The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales

Fountain Road, Tondu, Bridgend, CF32 0EH

Telephone:  01656 724100    Email:  Field.assistant@welshwildlife.org

Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru

The following press release speaks for itself, however anglers are asked to support this campaign in every way. A grateful thanks from us to Rachel and the team!

Thursday 20 March 2014

Sent by the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru, established by Angling Cymru, Angling Trust, Countryside Alliance, Country Land and Business Association, Fish Legal and the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association

 

Angling & Countryside Groups Highlight Risk to Angling Businesses from Open Access to Water

The Angling Trust and the Countryside Alliance met with officials from the Welsh Government to highlight the risk to angling businesses from proposals which have been mooted by Welsh Ministers for open access to rivers in Wales.  They took them to the Gliffaes Hotel near Crickhowell where co-owner James Suter explained to them that angling on the River Usk is absolutely vital to the profitability of the hotel, which is a major employer in the area.  He noted that he had never had any revenue from canoeists using the river under the Voluntary Access Agreement that is in place on the upper Usk.

The Angling Trust and Countryside Alliance are members of the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC), which represents hundreds of thousands of anglers and land owners in Wales and was co-founded with Angling  Cymru, The Country, Land and Business Association and the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association back in September 2013.

They stressed at the meeting that they were supportive of Voluntary Access Agreements (VAAs) to increase the number of rivers where canoeing is allowed, but stressed that these must include restrictions to avoid damage to sensitive ecosystems from boats and slashing the capital value of fishing rights, which may be worth as much as £1billion in Wales.  They also pressed the officials to introduce the registration and licensing of all vessels on rivers so that such agreements can be enforced.

A green paper on access to the countryside, due to be published in the autumn of 2013, has been further delayed following a huge volume of correspondence from SACC supporters highlighting the risks of access without locally-agreed restrictions.

Formation of more VAAs throughout Wales and England has been frustrated by the refusal of the canoeing representative organisations to agree to anything other than access to all areas at all times.  Furthermore, Canoe Wales has recently issued a statement on navigation policy which claimed a “right to use the inland waters of Wales” and stated that “Canoe Wales supports the rights of its members and the general public to use all the inland waters of Wales with responsibility and pride”.

All the legal textbooks concur that no such right exists, except on navigable rivers.  This has been confirmed by independent lawyers and QCs, and no legal professional has ever suggested otherwise.  The continued suggestion from the British Canoe Union and Canoe Wales that such a right might exist is causing widespread unlawful canoeing which is the subject of a complaint by the Angling Trust to UK and Welsh Government.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “angling is worth approximately £150 million to the Welsh economy, and supports thousands of jobs.  We urge Ministers to ensure that this business, and the wild fish on which it depends, are strongly protected in any proposals for increased access.  We support increasing access to rivers for paddle boats, but is seems utterly reasonable that this access should be restricted to protect legitimate existing users and to protect the fragile environment of rivers.”

Rachel Evans Director for Wales for the Countryside Alliance said: “any increase in access to land and water must take in to consideration people’s property rights, and must be managed to complement and protect the environment and habitats.  With regard to access to rivers, the continued stand-off by Canoe Wales and their membership is once again forming barriers for negotiation. For access agreements to work on our rivers, I think it is vital that vessels be licensed and have some form of identification.”

Natural Resources Wales latest Newsletter

The latest Newsletter is worth a read, click newsletters: the latest is at the top of the list. There is an unusually large amount of angling related content. Also Board Meeting Note dated 13th February 2014

WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE WORKSHOPS

 

The initial consultation process about the Water Framework Directive was tortuous, tedious and a real drudge. I got the impression that without several degrees and an encyclopedic knowledge of the innumerable learned papers  produced by goodness knows who, the whole process was, it seemed to me, designed to frustrate all but the experts.

However, last week I attended two catchment workshops: the River Conwy and the River Clwyd. Attendees included NRW staff of course, representatives of farmers, commercial forestry, local Council, Bangor University, National Park, National Trust and many more. The NRW made it quite clear that they were addressing each river catchment separately and identifying  specific issues impacting on each. They also made it quite clear that financial constraints meant that they could not address many of the issues without support from other sectors. I went to the workshops cynical and wary: I think the EAW had lost a deal of credibility over the years, although staff in this area were trying to put that right. After the Conwy meeting we were asked to complete a “what did you think of that?” form, which I did, expressing gloom and despondency. The Clwyd workshop was two days later, by which time I had given some thought to the previous proceedings and had a change of heart. I think the NRW are being honest and as open as they can be and look forward to the follow on  consultation when, I hope, the intention will be to set up joint efforts to address the issues identified.

I was also reminded of the good work being done by the River Trusts. The Clwyd, Conwy and Gwynedd  Rivers Trust have carried out a number of substantial of environmental improvement schemes, mainly but not exclusively to tributaries, where in years gone by salmonids had spawned in great numbers.

The time has come for more partnership working, even at club level, where by a joint effort beneficial improvements can be made to in river habitat, but more importantly in the long neglected tributaries.

HYDRO POWER?

In view of the current concerns being expressed by many anglers and clubs a look at the latest Angling Trust news sheet will be a help. Click Angling Trust under Publications.