Last update: 24th July 2019

PINK SALMON

 

Natural Resources Wales appeals to anglers and the public for continued help in identifying and reporting pink salmon catches.

Natural Resources Wales is urging netsmen and anglers to report unusual catches after the first capture of a pink salmon in the river Dee at the Chester fish trap monitoring station.

Numerous capture reports were made around the UK in 2017 especially in Scotland and off England’s north east coast. Pink salmon were also recorded spawning in Scotland, however there were few reports from the UK western coast and none in Wales.

NRW is collecting vital data about sightings so officers can monitor the situation to determine any potential impact on the local environment and species. Data collected will help the NRW, fisheries researchers and other organisations with an interest in fisheries management in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scandinavia, better understand how to manage the arrival of pink salmon in the UK.

Non-native pink salmon caught on the River Dee July 2019

Unusual find

Dave Mee Lead Specialist Advisor said:

It is quite unusual to find pink salmon in our waters, this may be the first in some 30 years, though there were numerous reports around the UK and Ireland in 2017

I’d urge netsmen and anglers to contact us if they see any non-native salmon in the waters, with a date, location and if possible a photograph, which would really help us identify them and build up a picture of where they may be.

Advice for anglers and netsmen

We are concerned about the state of our native Atlantic salmon stocks and urge all netsmen and anglers to return all native salmon.  However, those who catch a non-native pink salmon are asked not to return the fish to the water. Instead they are asked to dispatch of them humanely and, if possible, make the fish available to the NRW for inspection and further analysis.

– Keep the fish and do not release it back into the water (even in rivers only open for catch and release angling)

– Record the date & location of capture, length and weight of fish

– Take a photograph of the fish

– Report it to NRWs 24-hour confidential hotline number 03000653000 without delay.

NRW will then arrange collection of the fish for further examination. This will help establish the abundance and extent of distribution of the species in Welsh waters.

Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), also known as humpback salmon, originate from the northern Pacific Ocean.

The appearance of the species is of concern as it may impact on Wales’ indigenous salmon and sea trout populations in the future. The potential impact of pink salmon is unclear at present; however, these fish may introduce parasites and pathogens not present in native salmonid fish.  Interbreeding with Atlantic salmon is unlikely as pink salmon spawn in late summer whereas Atlantic salmon spawn in winter. However, competition for food and space in nursery areas between juvenile pink and Atlantic salmon is possible.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Natural Resources Wales
Customer Care Centre 03000653000 or email fisheries@cyfoethnaturiolcymru,gov.uk

How to identify a pink salmon:

  • Large black oval spots on the tail
  • Bluish back, silver flanks and white belly
  • Much smaller scales than an Atlantic salmon of the same size
  • Very dark mouth and tongue
  • 40-60cm in length
  • Breeding males develop a distinctive hump

In contrast, the native Atlantic salmon typically:

  • Have no spots on the tail
  • Usually larger (up 100cm in length)
  • Pale mouth and tongue
  • Larger scales
  • One or two black spots on the gill cover
  • Spots on the back above the lateral line
  • Thicker base of tail than a pink salmon

Photographs helping identify pink salmon

Pink Salmon head

                                                                        Distinctive spotting pattern on tail

Ocean phase

From the Welsh Government

Marine and Fisheries Division

Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs 

16 July 2019

Dear Mr Eardley,

I would like to update you on the outcome of the Local Inquiry relating to Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) proposed Byelaws for Salmon and Sea Trout.  The Planning Inspectorate concluded the Inquiry and provided the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs with a final report on 3 June, which has today been published along with a Ministerial Written Statement outlining the Minister’s final decision.  The statement and a copy of the Inspector’s Recommendation Report can be found at the following link:

https://gov.wales/written-statement-outcome-local-inquiry-natural-resources-wales-proposed-all-wales-salmon-and-sea?_ga=2.35170979.380425072.1563178964-1735457580.1537351409

It is clear to see, from the Report, the depth of feeling and passion on both sides. It is also clear to see there is common ground, between all sides, that Salmon and Sea Trout stocks in Wales have been suffering an ongoing decline.  It is therefore generally agreed there is a problem.  There is also an acceptance, as a matter of principle that its important stock levels do not fall to unsafe levels, and declines need to be reversed.

Having reflected on all the evidence and arguments put forward, the Minister agrees with the Inspectorate; the Byelaws are necessary, proportionate and reasonable in view of the decline of Salmon and Sea Trout stocks throughout Wales.  She has therefore decided to confirm the Byelaws, and for them to come into force on 1 January 2020.

However, she was also struck by the arguments put forward by many of those who attended the Inquiry and acknowledges angling is only one of many interventions which affect the survival of Salmon and Sea Trout. 

The impact of agricultural pollution was raised as a major concern during the Inquiry.  In November 2018 the Minister issued a Written Statement which will introduce regulations to tackle agricultural pollution.  The proposed regulations are expected to come into force in January 2020 and will provide greater protection for water quality from excessive nutrients.

Other concerns raised include obstructions to migration, water abstraction and robust enforcement activity.  The Inquiry showed NRW and others are already carrying out a great deal of work on these areas, however, the detail of these actions is not always shared with the public and not readily accessible.  For this reason the Minister has asked NRW to take the lead on a Welsh specific plan of action for the protection of Salmon and Sea Trout, working with stakeholders, including anglers.  It will pull together all the current work being taken forward by all relevant parties, as well as identify gaps and actions to address these.  Welsh Government officials will work with NRW to contribute to this, as I hope will anglers and supporters of angling.

We expect the plan of action to be made public and shared with anglers, and other interested parties, before the Byelaws come into force on 1 January 2020.

Calling for a Local Inquiry was not a decision the Minister took lightly, however, it was necessary and many lessons have been learnt.  Going forward, we will work with NRW to improve effective, meaningful and collaborative engagement with interested parties from the onset.

I hope you will take the opportunity to engage in this work to achieve our shared goal of addressing the decline in Salmon and Sea Trout stocks in our waters.

Yours sincerely

Gareth Bevington

Deputy Director

Marine and Fisheries Division / Is-adran Môr a Physgodfeydd

Outcome of the Local Inquiry on Natural Resources Wales’ proposed ‘All Wales Salmon and Sea Trout Byelaws

THE FOLLOWING IS COPIED FROM THE REPORT : THE APPEAL HAS BEEN LOST AND THE FOLLOWING WILL BE IMPLEMENTED FROM 2020. PLEASE SEE THE NEW BYELAWS WEHEN PUBLISHED FOR FULL DETAILS.

The Byelaws 7. The proposed byelaws are detailed in full in Inquiry documents Ref. CD APP/52 & APP/53. The proposed byelaws are time limited to ten years and will implement a number of measures. In summary, the byelaws propose the following measures: • Catch and release of salmon – a mandatory requirement that any salmon caught by rods and nets will be returned to the river; • Rod fishing method controls which introduce and require: (a) a ban on treble and double hooks on lures; (b) a ban on treble hooks with a gape-size larger than 7mm for flies; and (c) use of barbless and debarbed hooks only; • Ban on fishing for salmon with worm bait; • A seasonal restriction on the use of shrimp and prawn bait; • A slot limit of 60cm for rod-caught sea trout; • Net fishing season changes (variable according to specific rivers); and, • Additional control measures are proposed to protect sea trout stocks on targeted rivers where these are deemed necessary, including statutory C&R fishing in the period when net fishing is constrained each year until 1st May, and method controls on bait before 1st May. 8. The proposed byelaws were informed by a detailed technical case (TC)5, and subject to a consultation process6. As a result of the consultation process amendments were subsequently incorporated into the proposed byelaws that NRW seeks to be confirmed. 9. During the course of the inquiry it became apparent that the proposed byelaws contained a drafting error which related to a prohibition on fishing for brown trout with a worm in addition to a number of minor typographical errors7. Bearing in the mind the prohibition on fishing for brown trout was clearly referred to in error and was not the intended effect 4 A list of those who presented evidence is included at Annex A of this report 5 Refer to CD APP/4 6 Refer to CD APP/6-13 7 Refer to ID NRW/INQ/23 Report ENV/3209811 3 https://gov.wales/planning-inspectorate Return to Contents of the byelaws, and would significantly disadvantage anglers, and the minor nonsubstantive nature of the typographical errors, I do not consider any prejudice would arise in the WM’s considering the proposed byelaws in light of these matters.

Reply from Hannah Blythyn AC/AM

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government

Ein cyf/Our ref DC/HB/05335/19

Mr W G Davies Chairman

Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association w.gary.davies@sky.com

12 June 2019

Dear Gary,

Thank you for your letter received on 3 June, on behalf of Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association, regarding an invitation to meet.

Access to inland water has long been a contentious issue with both user communities passionately believing that they are in the right, both legally and morally. These highly polarised views have hindered efforts to reduce the conflict between users to date. I believe that access to water now needs to be considered as part of a wider approach, not in isolation. We need to broaden the debate and ask what Wales wants from its inland waters, and the role that access rights have in delivering this.

To try to resolve this stalemate, I have asked the National Access Forum to give particular priority to laying the ground work for greater dialogue on inland waters issues that is needed. I am also seeking specialist advice from Natural Resources Wales, who are the Government’s advisers on access matters which will include possible non-legislative approaches. However, I recognise that options may be limited given that we have tried to promote VAAs (Voluntary Access Agreements) before, with little take-up.

I strongly feel that the long term answer needs to come from stakeholders and have encouraged them, through my Written Statement, to find a practical joint solution. I hope that by focussing on what we share, rather than our differences, may help to find solutions and reach some form of consensus.

Should I not be satisfied of reasonable progress within 18 months, I plan to consider future legislation on access to water. However, at this stage I do not have a set view of what any such legislation would look like.

Bae Caerdydd • Cardiff Bay

Caerdydd • Cardiff

CF99 1NA

Canolfan Cyswllt Cyntaf / First Point of Contact Centre:

0300 0604400

Gohebiaeth.Hannah.Blythyn@llyw.cymru Correspondence.Hannah.Blythyn@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.

Yours sincerely,

Hannah Blythyn AC/AM

Y Dirprwy Weinidog Tai a Llywodraeth Leol

Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government

From W G Davies (Gary) Chairman MTAA to: Hannah Blythyn.AC, AM. Deputy Minister Local Gov and Housing

Mr. W.G. Davies:        Chairman.           3 Blanche Street,

                                         Dowlais,

                                                                                                            Merthyr Tydfil.

                                                                                                            CF48 3PE.

                                                                                                            01685 371981.

                                                                                                             07974806032

    E mail:W.GARY.DAVIES@sky.com                                                                                                                 3/6/2019

To:  Hannah Blythyn.AC,  AM. Deputy Minister Local Gov and Housing

Cc:  Dawn Bowden AM.  Mr Gerald Jones MP.

Ref:- Access inland water – “Legislation”

Dear Minister,

To say I am dismayed would be a vast understatement considering the work has been done over the past TEN years, trying to make access agreements.

It should be considered that whilst Jane Davidson was the minister responsible, who brought together organisations at the so called ROUNDTABLE, even at the behest of the minister no head way could be made because the paid canoe Wales official maintained  that canoe Wales could not demand the membership to agree to any terms unless full access was available. Yet prior to the petition there were numerous agreements on a number of rivers, the river Tawe and the Tawe angling club is a case to consider (refer to Life President Raymond Lockyear) and the river Usk (refer to David  Jones Powell). This was prior to the Usk “agreement” by Dr Steven Marsh Smith OBE.

I have not had the pleasure of meeting or speaking with you, I would be pleased to rectify this matter at your convenience, as I have had with previous ministers.

 l endured the full attendance of the Welsh Government public inquiry to the access to inland water 2009/10. In fact the committee dealing with the inquiry supplied me with the Embargoed findings of the sustainability committee, 24 hours before the public announcement was made at the White Water Centre Cardiff.

Incidentally the call for the inquiry was by an electronic petition which included canoeists from many countries apart from the few hundred from Wales. The “WELSH” anglers responded within a couple of weeks with some 10,000 individual WELSH signatures.
The findings were in a nutshell, that Voluntary Access agreements were to be agreed between the fishing clubs and riparian owners with the paddling organisation. I personally gave the assurance to the committee that the angling body would do all in its power to bring about the agreements. Agreements were made but the governing body of the paddlers would only agree if the agreement gave them paddling rights at all times irrespective of the wishes of the angling Associations and fishery owners bodies wishes.


As chairman and founder member of the Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association. A body which formed in 1966/7 we did not own any of our fishing. We changed this by gradually purchasing the rights and access, ie we paid for access. WE have progressed over the years to own various parcels of land adjacent to river banks and to have made some of the holdings into a Nature Reserve and to have progressed from a local association to one that now has an open membership and brings in people from all over Wales but more importantly from all walks of life and all areas of the country. We have made agreement with a Welsh Agricultural college and other owners on the river Usk who have been happy to sign an agreement. Even though we have been rebuffed by paddlers, you and other government/assembly members, are, it would seem prepared to legalise the compulsory purchase of of rights obtained by legal means at the expense of people  (Electorate). Of course I / We realise that you take advice from the people known as civil servants but we do not think that you are finding out the whole truth of the Issue you are looking to legislate for

The following Salient Points are:

          1/ Grants awards to angling and canoeing,

          a/ Angling £396K per 5 yrs (2008 – 2013)   Figures derived from

            b/  Canoeing    £1.8M    “   “         “           “   freedom of Information

            c/ No Anglers 41,913  equates to value of £9.43 / angler per 5 yrs               d/ No canoes     3,800         “       “    “      £473.13/ canoeist  “    

2/  Value of Rod Licence sales (average figure)           £1.31M  per annum

         “      “             permit     “  (club licence)            £2.51M    “      “

              Minimum accrued to Economy of Wales       £3.82M

           Paid by Association/clubs per annum              £2.14M  Rentals

              Total to Economy of Wales                            £5.94M

3/         Value of fishings / property owned          £17.31M

Approximately 26 Association / clubs gave information for ownership & rental values. (No private owners cost/valuation included)

We appreciate that canoes are an Olympic sport therefore the Olympic contenders should have financial backing. But does this include finance to canoe clubs for the purchase of vessels and road vehicles at a cost of thousands of pounds, surely this cannot be in support of the OLYMPIC contenders.

Detail of grants to various canoe activities.

Develop a site for canoe polo     –  £11,170.00

Flatwater participation project    –  £11,625.00

Purchase of trailer etc                 –  £  6,752.00

Canoe Wales school programme – £15,000.00

More members more coaches      – £10,207.00

It is widely known that more voluntary access agreements could be in place. The stumbling block is entirely down to canoe Wales who will only accept access on unfettered terms 24/7.

 In 1979 when as an Association we purchased for our members and the general public a Salmon beat of some 1070 yards as measurements were then we realised that to have open house for the membership to fish this small length would result in conflict ie to many people using it at the same time. We organised a booking system for this fishing and even to today even though we now have three miles of Salmon fishing we still run that system. I mention this just to point out that angling as with most sports and particularly where the protection of the Environment is concerned needs a way to control unrestricted use for the benefit of all.  (Honey pot areas such as Pen y Fan)

Serious questions need to be asked regarding as to why you may seem it necessary to look for legislation.

What must be also taken into consideration that club members/individuals may only use that part of the river (perhaps one mile) owned or rented whereas the canoe fraternity would consider their right to insert the boat at the headwaters (or anywhere between) and exit at the estuary, This means ALL rivers and streams irrespective of spawning periods and other users. This would go against the spirit of the Environment Act promoted by the Welsh Government.

There follows some notes from the 2009 enquiry on evidence given by Sports Council for Wales.

Evidence given by Sports Council Wales

To : Sustainabilitv Committee________________ 3/12/2009

Notes of Part of Evidence ONLY

Q = Question from Sust Comm

A = Answer from Sports council Chief Exec

1/  Q – In your opinion is there need for legislation.

A – An emphatic NO!

21   Q – How many people partake in outdoor ACTIVITIES (Wales)

A – A large percentage of Welsh people 49%. If you take out walkers you are left with a figure of 9%. Of this figure 1.1% are anglers a very small % are canoes 0.02%.

These figures break down to persons affiliated to governing bodies. Angling  40,000. Canoes 5,500. Note: There are 70,000 rod licences sold in Wales.

3/   Q – We are told there is latent demand for access to water related activities.

A –  How do you substantiate latent demand and from what base would you start.

4/    Q – Seeing that flowing water is not owned, would any person be commiting an offence by floating on it.

A – I am not a legal person but I do know that the RIPARIAN owner has the control of what goes on over his land irrespective in air or on water.

5/    Q – How do you see thing happening and should all pay.

A – Through local agreements. The problem with canoes is that they do not wish to pay. Other activities such as golf, gym, football and other have to pay, some such as golf pay a substantial amount £300pa to £1000 pa. A gym would more that likely charge £30 per month, so yes payment must figure for all except walkers.

6Q – Do you give financial support to the canoe governing body and angling

A –   Yes.

Q –  How much.

A –  Chair, I will send you a note (see previous ref Grants) detailing all financial support to all governing bodies. This year we have not funded an Access officer to Canoe Wales, (post occupied by Pam Bell)

My note :   Information indicates £1.8m to canoes and approx £396k to angling.

No mention was made in reference to companies using rivers to hire canoes and rafts at considerable cost to participants and at NIL cost to the organiser and nil to the owners of the property, could this be called squatters rights?

An individual canoe or small party could be acceptable with agreement, but  a flotilla of craft would not be acceptable.

Yours Faithfully

W G Davies   (Gary)

Chairman MTAA

Letter from Minister to Chris White

Page 1

Update from Chris White

The minister has sent a written statement to all AM’s saying she has received the inspectors report see the attachment.  Note she intends to make her decision before the summer recess so not much will happen until after July and probably not until September when the Assembly returns.  I cant see any changes to the byelaws as after her decision has been made we will receive a coy of the inspectors report and can challenge its contents if needed.  NRW could of course issue and emergency byelaw to bring in the restrictions before the 16 June.

I have also had a response to my letter, I seem to have upset the Minister see attached letter!  I think the response to my letter from LG is more of a defence which probably would not stand up to scrutiny under a judicial review.  Until we see the inspectors report there is not much we can do, we just have to be patient. 

Feel free to circulate this email to your members.

Chris

Welsh Dee Smolt tagging reports

Joel Rees Jones, of NRW, has been good enough to share the various reports relating to the smolt tagging experiment currently in its final year on the head of the River Dee click here for link.

Chris White's letter to The Minister

Dear Minister,

Following an email from the Planning Inspectorate re the delay in the release of the Inspectors report on the above Inquiry please see the attached letter outlining our very real concerns on the lack of transparency with regard to the inquiry and the withholding of the inspectors report until a decision has been made by the Ministers.

Regards

Chris White

Conservation officer: Campaign for the protection of Welsh fisheries

Commentary from CPWF Conservation Officer

As I am away next week following discussions with the key CPWF objectors I have sent the attached letter to the Minister this evening (and received acknowledgement of its receipt). 

I am not sure if this will make any difference and expect to receive the standard ‘I can’t comment until I receive the Inspectors report’ reply from the Minister.  However by sending this now it raises concerns about the way in which this sham of an inquiry has been handled.  We cannot of course know what the Inspector will recommend and the fact that he has requested extra time tends to signify he is struggling due to his lack of understanding of fisheries issues.  The risk here is that he will use the precautionary principle to justify his recommendations whilst recognising our valid arguments but we will have to wait until his report is sent to the Minister, hopefully we will get a copy before any decision is made, it is up to the Minister to agree to release the report to us as soon as she receives it.

In terms of the decision process as this is new legislation, the proposals cannot be considered as a byelaw as this is not a local issue i.e. it is an All Wales Fisheries Regulation and therefore has to follow the same route as any other legislation.  In addition it will be necessary to repeal the existing local fisheries byelaws – all 10 of them.  Having looked at the WG process for introducing new legislation my understanding is the Minister has to present her recommendations for new legislation to the Assembly and these are scrutinised by one of two legislative committees before being passed back to the Assembly for approval, the Assembly website says this can take up to 40 days.  Once approved by the Assembly the legislation has to be sent for Royal Assent.  As the inspectors report is now not due until 3 June it is unlikely that the byelaws if approved would be in place before August bearing in mind there is also a summer recess of the Assembly.  My previous request for the Minister to delay any fisheries legislation until 2020 has so far been rejected. 

I have attached an email from the Rev Paul Cawthorn which you should read as it covers most of our concerns.  It seems that in his meeting with NRW (Gough and Mee) in Dolgellau Paul was told that if the decision goes against NRW they will apply for emergency measures but they did not quantify where these would apply, there are still issues we will have to fight whatever happens.

Feel free to circulate this to your members and AM’s

Chris

Update from Chris White

All,

Some of you will already have received this email from the Planning Inspectorate (PI) to say the inspectors report will now not be completed until 3 June.  We should not be surprised that the inspector is having difficulty ‘due to the complexity’ of the inquiry.  This is direct result of the Minister using her Planning Inspectorate and calling this a ‘Public Local inquiry’ whilst recognising in her correspondence to several of us that she recognised this as ‘The All Wales Byelaws’ i.e. this was not a local issue.  Had the inquiry been run as a Public Inquiry an independent chairman would have been appointed who could have been supported by technical advisors.  Instead a planning inspector was selected with no knowledge of fisheries or their management.  Cynically I believe he was selected as he had sided with NRW on a planning inquiry based upon the precautionary principle, the whole of the NRW case was based on the precautionary principle. 

I have drafted a letter to send to the Minister.  The plan was to send this tomorrow evening but I will now hold this until 3 June.  It is interesting to note that Luke Davies who is standing in as head of Fisheries for WG since Jeremy Frost left, and it is Luke who will be sending out copies of the inspectors report but only once the Minister has made a decision and therein lays the problem. Having attended all 16 days of the inquiry I believed that we would receive a copy of the report at the same time as the Minister, there is nothing to stop this from happening and I cover this in my letter in the sprit of ‘openness’ which the Minister declared in her letter to me when explaining why she was using the planning Inspectorate.  I will not send you copies of the draft letter until this has been sent to the Minister however I think you should see this key paragraph:

The perception is that by choosing to call the Inquiry a ‘Public Local Inquiry’ it enabled you to use the Planning Inspectorate, a department you have responsibility for.  We also noted the appointment of an inspector who had apparently sat as adjudicator in an action brought by NRW who had instructed the same Solicitors in a case which we believe to a large extent turned as in the instant upon the doctrine known as The Precautionary Principle

I doubt that the Minister is aware of the way the PI manipulated how the inquiry was to be run however she is condemned by the statement in her letter to me which says: “The Inspectorate decided to apply these regulations in the case of the byelaws in view of their appointment and having regard to the reason for that appointment” it is the reasons why the PI was selected that gives cause for concern.

I think she may have to defend this statement at some point particularly following the judicial review brought by the widow of Carl Sargeant as the First Minister was criticised for using his own department to carryout an investigation into the facts around the Sargeant dismissal.  I am just firing a shot across the bows of the Minister and will leave it to the AM’s to bring her to task in the SENEDD.

Feel free to forward this, your AM’s may be interested as a considerable amount of public money has been spent on this inquiry, money which would have been better spent on actually addressing the core issues affecting fisheries – and that is not anglers!

Chris

Chris White: Notes on the Welsh Fisheries Forum

Attendees

Stephen Marsh-Smith Afonydd Cymru
Richard Garner Williams Welsh Salmon & Trout Conservation Cymru
Mark Lloyd Angling Trust
Alan Winstone Clwyd, Conwy & Gwynedd Rivers Trust
Paul Edwards Welsh Salmon & Trout Angling Association
Denise Ashton Wild Trout Trust
Chris White Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries
Johnathan Luke Davies Welsh Government (Inland Fisheries)
Peter Gough NRW
John Clark NRW
Nicola Teague Institute of Fisheries Management
Rachel Evans Countryside Alliance
Ruth Jenkins (CHAIR) NRW
David Mee NRW

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome and Introductions (Ruth Jenkins)

Ruth welcomed everyone to the second meeting of the forum and reviewed the action items from the previous (inaugural) meeting.  The draft minutes will be available on the NRW website once approved.

The reorganisation within NRW will be completed by July.  The new structure will move from 10 areas down to 6.  There will be more people working on the freshwater environment although there will be no increase in fisheries staff.  There is difficulty in recruiting fisheries staff and there is a lack of experienced fisheries officers in NRW it was suggested that fisheries officers could train other members of their team in fisheries issues. 

Mark Lloyd updated how the Virtual Bailiff scheme is working in England, there are 500 volunteers carrying out patrols (7/8 are ex police officers) but Mark emphasised that this was a ‘hands off’ operation feeding intelligence to the EA and Police.  Mark considers this has worked well and it is feasible to extend this to Wales.

The head of Inland Fisheries (Jeremy Frost) for WG either resigned or retired at the end of April, this seems to have been unexpected and Luke Davies is now covering this role for WG until a successor is found. 

Membership of the Forum was discussed and to keep the numbers to a manageable size it was suggested that existing members liaise with their local LFG’s and represent them at future meetings.  This is already happening in North and South Wales but it was recognised that West Wales did not have any contacts on the forum.  It was suggested that a member from the Carmarthenshire Fisheries Federation be invited to join the group.  It was also suggested that Welsh Water become a member.

  • Area Statements

John Clark presented an overview of the area statements which are an EU requirement and has now replaced the River Basin management plans.  The plan is to have the area statements completed by March 2020.  The area statements are The State of Natural Resources Report (SoNaRR 2) which is the Assessment of the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources within Wales this includes requirements under the Water Framework Directive.  Mark Lloyd questioned if this was just ‘re-packaging’ of the existing system to make it look as if there is progress being made.  John Clark said there would be local workshops held as happened with the river basin management plans and that SoNaRR 2 would be web based along the lines used in an Australian portal on the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (SMNR).

  • Fisheries Local Inquiry – feedback and commitments made

Peter Gough went through the costs of the inquiry (£350K plus!) and explained that the inspector had set a deadline of issuing his report on or before the 17 May.  The report will be issued to the Minister and it is unclear if those objecting will receive a copy prior to the Minister making a decision.

The Fish Eating Birds (FEB’s) Advisory group has prepared a paper and the NRW Executive Team has approved this with some amendments (we did not have copies of this paper).  It seems that there is a concern that there is no evidence base on the damage done by FEB’s so it seems unlikely that there will be any immediate action on controlling FEB’s while a formal study is carried out, as FEB’s only eat fish how much more evidence do they need!  The paper will be present to WG once it has been approved by the NRW Board at the May Board meeting.

There have been 16 rivers surveyed and plans produced as part of the River Restoration project which is being carried out by Rivers trusts in Wales via Afonydd Cymru.  The survey reports and work program will be made public via the NRW website.  Reports are mainly pictorial i.e. photographs showing the areas needing attention.  I had been asked by the Dee LFG to raise the issue of the lack of visibility about the River Restoration project and that more needs to be done to engage stakeholders.  As rivers Trusts are undertaking this work on behalf of NRW it is for the Trusts to communicate with stakeholders.

Items for discussion

  • Fisheries Strategy

Members were asked for their feedback on the strategy paper.  The most significant comments were there is now no longer a dedicated fisheries department within NRW.  It was also noted that this was a ‘fisheries strategy’ document which did not make reference to fishing and it was more of a vital nature diversity strategy.  It was also noted that the strategy only dealt with ‘wild fish’ and there was nothing about stocked fisheries or sea fishing.  I asked if WG were committed to promoting fishing in Wales and pointed out that the perception is that WG are only interested in promoting adventure activity on our rivers and consider anglers as blocking the WG wish for open access.  A sub group will be formed to progress the strategy.

  • Stock assessment 2018

The two papers on sea trout and salmon stocks were discussed.  The picture remains much the same primarily due to the way NRW applies statistical analysis it should be noted that in the majority of cases the status is declared as ‘uncertain’ i.e. it is just a best guess.  PG explained that NRW had engaged with CEFAS to review the present statistical model due to the uncertainty of the results they produce, this review may be due to the challenge we made at the inquiry about the methodology. 

  • Wales land management Forum

The strategy on future land management will be presented to the NRW Board at the May Board meeting.  It remains to be seen if the promised reforms will be implemented and even if they are this will be some time in the future – too little too late!

  • Angling promotion update

Mark Lloyd updated the group and explained that AT had received a grant of £100K from Visit Wales and £30K from NRW to promote fishing in Wales.  This will be via a web based system which will list all of the available fishing within Wales this will include Coarse/Sea/Game fishing with contact details for clubs etc.  There will also be a Social media link so that anglers can post their experience of fishing in Wales (good or bad) but Mark said that the posts would be subject moderation.  In 2020 it is apparently the ‘Year of the Outdoors’ and this will be a good platform to promote fishing in Wales with a link to the WUF Fishing passport scheme, clubs in Wales should be encouraged to sign up to the passport scheme or at least ensure that their information is included in the AT database.

  • Items for information

There was a short discussion on invasive species and angling Pathway Action Plans (PAP’s) this is directed at recreational anglers to prevent the transfer of disease and invasive species and it is hoped that anglers will sign up to check/clean/dry their equipment.  I pointed out that this must also apply to paddlesport.

There was a quick update on the proposed Tidal Lagoons with NRW remodelling the environmental impact using new parameters.  The general impression was that at this time Tidal lagoons are too costly to proceed.

A hydro power briefing note was handed out I have attached a copy of this.

It seems that Thames Water wants to take surplus water from Lake Vyrnwy using the Vyrnwy and Severn as conduits for most of the distance before diverting the water into the head waters of the Thames.  Apparently this idea has been ongoing for several years but seems to be gaining momentum.

  • Any Other Business

Mark Lloyd and Rachel Evans raised the access issue following the statement by Hannah Bythyn AM that if there are no improvements in voluntary access agreements in the next 18 months WG will legislate for open access.  This is a direct threat to fishing activity in Wales and I pointed out that it will have significant environmental consequences as adventure activity is only interested in profit and will contribute nothing to the management of the environment.

Rachel is prepared to deal with this issue on behalf of anglers and riparian owners but needs as much information on VAA’s offered and rejected as possible to counter the belief that anglers and riparian owners are blocking VAA’s.

The next meeting will be in November and will probably be held in Carmarthen.

Chris White: Report on Welsh Fisheries Forum

The second meeting of the fisheries forum was held in Newtown on Thursday 2 May, I have attached a summary of the notes I took at the meeting, the formal minutes will be available via the NRW website once approved, I will forward a copy to you as soon as I receive the draft copy.

The meeting was much better than the first meeting and seems to be heading in the right direction.  There appears to be a marked change how NRW want to work with anglers, this may be due to how and what we presented at the inquiry or cynically as there is now no fisheries department in NRW without anglers carrying out the work nothing will get done.  It seems that Jeremy Frost who was head of Inland Fisheries for WG resigned or retired at the end of April this seems to have been unexpected, Luke Davies is now looking after inland fisheries on behalf of the Welsh Government at least in the short term.  I seem to remember Peter Gough saying at the NRW Board meeting in Bangor in 2017 that he was two years from retirement and from comments at the meeting I think he may be retiring later this year as he said I will leave this to Dave Mee to sort out so it seems that Dave Mee will be taking on his role.  Not surprisingly NRW is having difficulty recruiting fisheries staff this is not surprising as there is no fisheries department in NRW and therefore no career path.  I have attached all of the papers we received if you have any comments please let me know.  Feel free to circulate this to your members.

Angling Trust and their help.

The Angling Trusts CEO Mark Lloyd, who was subject to considerable pressure during his presentation at the hearing was asked why the Angling Trust had not represented all speaking on on behalf of anglers, particularly, why he had not provided a barrister as had NRW, his response was as follows.

“It is preposterous of NRW’s legal counsel to suggest that the Angling Trust and/or Fish Legal could have met the costs of paying a barrister and supporting legal costs for the duration of the inquiry and all the preparatory work that would have been required.  This would have cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds against a budget of £70,000 for legal counsel for the whole year and we would have had no opportunity to reclaim costs from the other side as Fish Legal does in our civil litigation cases on behalf of member clubs and fisheries.  Fish Legal’s small team of lawyers is very busy in its principal role fighting pollution and other environmental threats to fish stocks and angling, often because NRW has failed to do its job properly regulating and prosecuting polluters.”

Well put Mark and our grateful thanks for all your efforts in this regard