Last update: 3rd February 2016.

N R W Fisheries bulletin: February 2016

Please click on the link below to view a copy of the above bulletin. Highlighted are the mitigation works both current and planned for the Welsh Dee,  Afon Mynach, Afon Wygyr Afon Angell, Afon Mawddach and Afon Seiont, together with other news items of interest to anglers.

fisheries bulletin Feb 16        Takes a few seconds to upload

Coed y Brenin Fishing conference

NRW have kindly let me have copies of the presentation that took place at the above. They are well worth a look, particularly salmon survival at sea and the Celtic Sea Trout reports.

celtic sea trout             Takes a few seconds to upload

salmon at sea        Takes a few seconds to upload

Forest, fisheries and water workshop

A workshop was held to bring together representatives from the forestry, fisheries and water sectors to discuss topics relevant to these groups. To see teh presentations and other documents used as part of the various presentation. click on the highlighted link here.

Workshop 20th March 2013

The Gateway Centre, Shrewsbury

A workshop was held to bring together representatives from the forestry, fisheries and water sectors to discuss topics relevant to these groups.

The workshop had good attendance and was welcomed as a productive way to discuss the topics under consideration. A series of introductory presentations were followed by consideration of sustainable forest management, fisheries and water from each sector. Two specific topics were then introduced followed by question and answer sessions: managing forests in acid sensitive catchments and the use of cypermethrin in forestry.

For more information contact: Michelle Van-Velzen:

The legal position about canoe access


Angling Trust Members News

Monday 18 January 2016

Angling Trust Logo
Update to SACC supporters from Angling Trust & Fish Legal regarding the legal position about canoe access

Last year, Fish Legal, working closely with the Angling Trust, challenged the Canoe Governing Bodies (British Canoe Union/British Canoeing, Canoe England and Canoe Wales) to get them to change the information that they were publishing suggesting that the law regarding rights of access to rivers is unclear in England and Wales.  This included reference to the academic works of Rev Dr Douglas Caffyn.  We felt that this information was contributing to a widespread increase in unlawful canoeing.  We have spent many months of work and several thousands of pounds on this legal case and we are making slow but significant progress. This included commissioning an eminent QC to advise on the legal position and review the works of Rev Dr Caffyn.  The QC’s Advice is very clear.  The summary of the Advice is set out below and we aim to publish the full document (which runs to 19 pages) in the coming weeks after further discussion with the Canoeing Governing Bodies.
Thank you very much for your support of the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru, which has made a contribution to the costs of commissioning this Advice.
Advice Summary
1. There is no general Public Right of Navigation (PRN) on English and Welsh non-tidal rivers for canoeists.
2. A PRN can only be established by long use of vessels on the relevant stretch of river, fulfilling all of the criteria below.
3. That use must have been regular and habitual, and must have made the river of substantial practical value as a channel of communication or transport.
4. The time for which that use must be established is “time immemorial.”
5. The law is entirely clear on the above issues.
6. The law is, however, not absolutely clear on how long is required to establish “time immemorial”, but it is likely that between 60 to 80 years of use needs to be established by those who assert a PRN.
7. Additionally, the use must also not have been under protest from the riparian owners, or by permission from them. On the contrary, use cannot be established unless it is shown that the owners have acquiesced with the passage of canoeists or other vessels throughout the period of use.
8. A PRN, if established, does not entitle paddlers to walk on the soil of the river bed or indeed go onto the river banks, again unless long usage of either has been established as against the owners.
9. In the absence of a PRN established by use, and assuming there is no agreed access, express dedication, or a statutory PRN, canoeists will be trespassing when they paddle in non-tidal waters.
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Atlantic Salmon Trust Annual Review

Please note that in teh paragraph headed Environment Agency Salmon Summit, there is reference to Scotland and England taking the salmon issue seriously. Why no mention or NRW or Wales?

Atlantic Salmon Trust Annual Review

New Leadership for AST

A new Chairman, Executive Director and refreshed Board of Directors were appointed at the December 2015 AGM at Fishmongers Hall following the retirement of current post-holders. The announcement of Robbie Douglas-Miller as Chairman, and Sarah Bayley Slater as Executive Director, has been made separately. There is more about the new appointments at the end of this message.

A Declining Species, but Grounds for Optimism?

2015 was the year when worries about salmon survival prompted measures to be taken to find ways of reducing marine mortality. The emphasis on migration mapping and research comes at a time when there are some grounds for optimism over things that can be done to increase numbers of returning adult salmon. Any optimism, however, should be seen in the context of the continuing decline of salmon and grilse, especially in their southern range. The fragility of southern European multi-sea-winter stocks, which includes all UK and Irish rivers, is of concern, as is poor survival of maturing one-sea-winter fish (grilse) and post smolts.

NASCO’s International Salmon Summit in 2011 concluded that climate change is the underlying driver of salmon decline. Ocean warming affects cold-water prey species, forcing salmon to find new feeding areas. In fresh water some rivers are now subject to extreme summer low-water and high temperature conditions, in which both adult and juvenile salmon struggle to survive. Some people feel that little can be done in these circumstances; but there is also a growing awareness that human exploitation of salmon, and manmade obstructions in fresh and saltwater environments, can be reduced to increase numbers of returning adult fish. AST’s involvement in leading, coordinating or supporting research into risks to survival in coastal waters and open seas are the basis of the Trust’s new strategy.

The Scottish Government Takes Action

The elimination of Scottish coastal netting is a huge step forward in protecting returning adult fish, as is the commitment of the angling community to catch and release. Both measures will guarantee that more wild Atlantic salmon spawn successfully. Mixed stocks netting in England, with Northeast drift nets and T&J coastal nets, needs to be addressed too. Now we must protect outgoing smolts as well as the incoming adults.

Salmon Farming: the Next Challenge

The single outstanding issue, which probably damages salmon and sea trout migrations far more than realised to date, is the impact of open-cage salmon farming on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. AST has been at the forefront of encouraging the industry to develop sustainable production by adopting new technologies and practices, including closed containment. The salmon farming issue will be addressed in a special session at the next international meeting of NASCO in June 2016. Action is long overdue.

What are the Risks to our Post-Smolts?

The fate of smolts in lower rivers, estuaries and coastal waters also needs to be better understood, and remedial actions taken. The same applies to accidental killing of salmon at sea by pelagic trawlers. AST is involved in these areas, with the following examples of work:

Acoustic Tracking — Salmon and Sea Trout

AST is encouraging post smolt tracking programmes by Salmon Fishery Boards and Trusts. Pilot work on the Dee will be carried out in close co-operation with Marine Scotland. The forthcoming AST & Dee Trust Seminar / Workshop in Aberdeen, in mid-February, should provide an ideal opportunity for those interested in co-operating in a more closely co-ordinated programme of work, to plan how to achieve this..

Innovative use of eDNA – Impacts of the Pelagic Fisheries on Salmon Post-Smolts

Work is progressing well in assessing the efficacy of a new Atlantic salmon eDNA probe, which is being tested as part of an AST funded research project in University College Dublin. The probe has been field tested on samples from the 2015 salmon fishery along the west coast of Ireland and on remnant salmon DNA material collected from the Burrishoole salmon index site. It is planned to use the probe to test water from holds, nets and storage tanks of pelagic boats fishing along the migration pathways of post-smolts in spring 2016.

Follow-up to the Sea Trout Symposium 2015 at Dundalk, Ireland

AST was central in organising this event as a follow-up to the ground-breaking conference in 2004. Following that event we recognised that sea trout were a neglected species. Publication of Sea Trout Facts was followed by a portfolio of research projects designed to build knowledge and improve management of these polymorphic fish. The focus on sea trout led AST’s work towards an emphasis on estuaries and the coastal zone which is also crucially important to salmon. The 2015 Dundalk Symposium encouraged us to refresh, fund and initiate a new sea trout research programme and provided useful guidance for future work on sea trout, which will remain an important priority for AST.

Environment Agency Salmon Summit

AST is closely involved with policies emerging from the November 2015 Summit. Both Ken Whelan, AST’s Research Director, and Ivor Llewelyn, AST Director for England and Wales, attended the event, as a result of which AST has been invited to lead on key outcomes. It is encouraging that in England, as well as Scotland, governments are now taking the plight of salmon seriously. The EA is committed to producing a five-point plan, and NGOs, including AST, will be fully involved in developing and implementing it. These levels of commitment throughout the UK will be severely tested in 2016 and beyond because, as well as political support, there will also be a requirement for significant resources.

AST’s Work Across the Atlantic Ocean

At the 2015 AGM of the Atlantic Salmon Federation in New York I made the following statement at the end of a presentation to ASF directors. “Salmon use all of the North Atlantic Ocean. To conserve them we must work ‘wherever the salmon swims’: together in the Big Picture, and in the smallest detail. The salmon knows no boundaries, nor should we”.

New Appointments

There are big changes taking place at the Atlantic Salmon Trust in the New Year with the appointment of a new Chairman, and a new Executive Director and Administrator following the retirements of Melfort Campbell, Tony Andrews and Marjorie Hunter.

At the December AGM, held as always in the sumptuous surroundings of Fishmongers Hall in London, AST’s Council of Members elected Robbie Douglas Miller as the new chairman of the board of directors.

Project Poacher app for mobile phones

This is the link to a new app for mobile phones

There you will find a full description of the app, which is supported by the police, Environment Agency and others, including NRW. Why is it then that I have been provided with the details from a BASC Voice of Shooting article kindly forwarded to me by a supporter. NRW really missed the boat here, had they advertised the app then at least we may have been encouraged that the senior management there actually think about anglers, if only occasionally. I have loaded the app on my phone and will use it in future. Why not have a go yourself?

A happy new year to you all.

We wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year with many tight lines and are please to assure you that there is much going on in the background.

We have to ask what impact the devastatingly high water flows will have on the salmon and sea trout redds and on next year’s supply of young fish and ask what happens if devastating floods drastically reduce fish stocks when we have no hatchery back up?

Environment Agency in England protecting fish

I find it depressing that there appear to be great efforts being made across the border to protect fish and fishing. I know from first hand experience that NRW staff, on the ground, and their managers are keen and exceeding dedicated. I assume funding, or lack of it, is the issue. Fisheries need more funding in Wales: come on the Senedd let’s have some action! Anglers should be aware that here is an election looming: make this an issue with Members of teh Welsh Government, we elect them!

Angling Trust Media Release

5th January 2016

Angling Trust Logo
Nottinghamshire Police & Crime Commissioner joins the fight against illegal poaching of fishWhen the Angling Trust went fishing with Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping recently it wasn’t so much about landing a fish as tightening the net on illegal poaching and related criminality.

Committed to reducing rural crime of all kinds, Mr Tipping’s trip to a fishing pool in South Muskham, near Newark, was all about discussing with local anglers what they can do to help the police protect fish and fisheries.

The Commissioner was keen to raise awareness of the value and importance of anglers passing information about criminal activity – including wildlife crime – to the police, agencies and partnerships such as the cross-border Operation Traverse.

Nottinghamshire Police already works closely with Lincolnshire Police and Operation Traverse – teamwork which is greatly assisted by up-to-date intelligence from the angling fraternities,” he said.

“Anglers and members of the local communities who know the rivers and fishing spots well are ideally placed to keep us in the picture. By reporting incidents to the police they become a vital cog in the wheel that tackles offenders and prevents crime.”

Operation Traverse is a multi-partnership operation that includes a growing number of police forces, the Angling Trust and Environment Agency. It helps to raise awareness of fish theft, wider related criminality and organised crime as well as encouraging a coordinated response to poaching.

Kevin Pearson, the Angling Trust’s Midlands Regional Enforcement Manager, said: “We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with Nottinghamshire Police and the Environment Agency to tackle poaching, rod licence evasion and angling-related crime. Having the support of Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping is a significant move forward as it demonstrates to the angling and rural communities that their concerns are being taken seriously.

‘We must understand that policing is intelligence-led – meaning that it is essential for anglers to report all incidents to the Environment Agency and police. Only then will the true extent of our problems be quantified and offenders brought to book.

“It is vitally important that we all contribute to Operation Traverse by calling the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 for suspected rod licence offences, or the police on 101 to report criminal offences including fishing without permission and the theft of fish, or 999 if a crime is in progress. Ask for a call reference number and request feedback.”

Dilip Sarkar MBE, Angling Trust’s National Enforcement Manager, said: “Operation Traverse remains an extremely important initiative and we are delighted to welcome Nottinghamshire Police aboard as a formal partner. We have listened to the concerns of anglers in that force area, particularly in respect of the river Trent, and now need to work together to support the Environment Agency and police in protecting fish and fisheries.”

Nottinghamshire Police has its own angler liaison officer: Special Constable Haddon Smith, who joined Commissioner Tipping at South Muskham. Acting as point of contact with anglers and water bailiffs in the Sherwood area, he also goes on patrol with them.

ENDS ———————————————————————

Further information:

Kevin Pearson
mobile: 07495 433620

Dilip Sarkar
mobile: 07971 677638

Notes for Editors:
Angling Trust’s Guide to Police Reporting can be found here

Promoting Operation Traverse are (from left) Special Constable Haddon Smith, Lee Watts (Environment Agency Officer), PCC Paddy Tipping, Kevin Pearson (Angling Trust), PC Nick Willey (Lincolnshire Police Rural Wildlife Crime Officer)

Angling Trust
The Angling Trust is the national representative and governing body for angling in England. It is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal, a separate membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK. Joint membership packages with Fish Legal are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories.

Find out all about the Angling Trust and its work or call us on 01568 620447


A Christmas Carol: kindly sent by a Derwent angler!

Where have all the salmon gone, long time passing

Where have all the salmon gone, long time ago

Where have all the salmon gone, ask the E.A. everyone

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn


Where have all the bailiffs gone, long time passing

Where have all the bailiffs gone, long time ago

Where have all the bailiffs gone, ask the E.A. everyone

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn


Where have all the poachers gone, long time passing

Where have all the poachers gone, long time ago

Where have all the poachers gone, to the Derwent everyone

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn


Where have all the small fish gone, long time passing

Where have all the small fish gone, long time ago

Where have all the small fish gone, goosanders ate them all but one

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn


Where have all the anglers gone, long time passing                       

Where have all the anglers gone, long time ago

Where have all the anglers gone, to far off rivers everyone

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn


Where have all the salmon gone, long time passing

Where have all the salmon gone, long time ago

Where have all the salmon gone, to re-stocked rivers everyone

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn


Why is this not happening in Wales, are we the poor relations?


Communiqué: England Salmon Summit, 19 November 2015

1. Purpose of the Salmon Summit In 2014,

England’s 42 principal salmon rivers were assessed to be at the lowest levels on record with no rivers classified as ‘not at risk’. In response, the Environment Agency hosted the Salmon Summit in Defra’s offices in London on 19 November 2015, to raise awareness about the state of England’s salmon stocks and to bring together influential leaders, policy makers, delivery bodies and NGOs to discuss and agree how we can collectively protect and enhance England’s salmon stocks. This communiqué is a summary record of the different sessions at the summit for delegates to share within their organisations and/or the interest groups they represent. At this stage it does not constitute any commitments to action. They will come from the Environment Agency’s five point approach relaunch in the New Year once funded commitments have been secured from all parties.

2. Attendees

George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, Sir Philip Dilley, Chairman and David Rooke, Acting Chief Executive of the Environment Agency met with senior executives and representatives from organisations that have a key part to play to secure the future of England’s salmon.

3. Pressures on salmon and options for action

Ted Potter, Cefas Senior Scientist, set out that to best manage stocks this needs to be done on a river by river basis and against compliance with Conservation Limits. Impacts on salmon later in their freshwater phase and during their marine phase have the greatest effects on stocks. Depleted stocks are less resilient to environmental change. Salmon are subject to many pressures in freshwater including water quality, water quantity and habitat degradation. With population growth, urban development, increasing demands for water and climate change, pressures on freshwater will increase, which requires long-term planning and catchment scale solutions that deliver multiple benefits.

Priorities include:

(a) Improve/mitigate reduced smolt to spawner survival through minimising impacts and delays to smolt emigration and setting clear criteria for increasing restrictions to net and rod fisheries where stocks are very low.

(b) Maximise the river catchment carrying capacity through ensuring free access of fish past man-made obstructions. Fish passage should be evaluated on the basis of both the proportion of fish passing and the length of any delay.

(c) Restore/improve freshwater productivity through: safeguarding suitable river flows for all life stages; maintaining and improving water quality; integrated catchment management including headwaters and small streams; applying a flexible risk-based approach to identify management actions that provide the greatest multiple benefits to all users relative to their costs. This may require major changes in the relationships between land use and aquatic ecosystems (e.g. use of set aside, re-establishment of wetlands, etc). There should be a long term catchment approach with strong engagement of local communities

4. Salmon conservation NGOs’ priorities

Ivor Llewelyn, Atlantic Salmon Trust, said that the key objective should be to ensure the maximum number possible of healthy smolts leave our rivers and estuaries. To achieve this, salmon conservation needed to be treated not just as a fisheries issue but as an integral part of all relevant policy areas, including water abstraction, land use, flood protection and agriculture. Action to reduce numbers of salmon killed from threatened stocks was still needed, as was the closure of mixed stock fisheries, but on their own these would not be enough. Moreover, this was not just about salmon; the recovery of salmon would symbolise a wider improvement in our natural environment. This would not be possible unless the Government and its agencies, NGOs and other fisheries interests worked in partnership: this meant working together to identify problems and possible solutions and then to implement those solutions.

5. Angling Trust Perspective

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal highlighted the importance of fishing for individuals, for communities and the economy. He said that there was nothing new about this problem and quoted the 2004 Stock Assessment which identified all the same problems being discussed at this summit. Urgent action was required, and most of it by other parts of the Environment Agency and Defra, rather than the fisheries department which now has a very small budget. He reported that the Angling Trust is leading the Save Our Salmon campaign in partnership with Trout and Salmon magazine with three key priorities:

1. All salmon netting should be stopped and salmon and sea trout should be designated as sport fish.

2. Agricultural pollution needs to be tackled by ensuring compliance with agricultural regulations – enforcing cross compliance as a condition of agricultural subsidies.

3. Fishery owners should have more freedom to control cormorants and goosanders to protect parr and smolts. He noted that implementation of abstraction reform and new fish passage regulations had been delayed by many years. The Trust consulted with its membership throughout England before the summit and there was an almost universal resistance to mandatory catch and release being imposed on anglers given the high rates achieved by voluntary action. Calls for hatcheries and culling of predators are becoming more widespread as anglers are frustrated by the lack of progress in other areas.

6. The Environment Agency’s 5 point approach

For the Environment Agency, Chairman, Sir Philip Dilley noted that salmon are an iconic species for the water environment. He outlined a 5 point approach to secure a better future for salmon that is centred on meeting the needs of salmon throughout its lifecycle, engages all those who have an influence on the salmon’s environment and is designed to deliver multiple benefits:

1. Improve marine survival – supporting government to continue international engagement to limit high seas fisheries and improve knowledge of salmon at sea

2. Further reduce exploitation by nets and rods – Environment Agency is considering significantly changing the approach to regulating fishing by working to the presumption of banning the killing of wild salmon unless the stock is shown to be able to sustain a fishery. This would include the suspension of many net fisheries, more catch and release and rules on angling methods and lures to reduce accidental mortality

3. Remove barriers to migration and enhance habitat – working with others and focusing on critical and high priority obstructions to improve access to more river catchment.

4. Safeguard sufficient flows – implement the programme to amend abstraction licences to improve flow regimes on principal salmon rivers

5. Maximise spawning success by improving water quality – secure action on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers through River Basin Plans, the Water Companies’ National Environment Programme and Countryside Stewardship

This is not just about salmon, for most of the actions will greatly improve our rivers for local communities and the wider water environment. Salmon too are a valued part of our ‘natural capital’. To help draw this together at a catchment scale, the Environment Agency will be working with catchment partnerships to identify priority salmon actions for England’s 42 principal salmon rivers.

6. The Government’s position

George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, supported the 5 point approach and emphasised the importance of working in partnership to deliver multiple benefits. To address agricultural diffuse pollution, Defra are consulting on new rules to deliver good farming practice and Countryside Stewardship is providing £400million to help farmers reduce water pollution. As part of new legislative measures to improve fish passage, Defra are looking at a range of options including strengthening the presumption to improve fish passage when works are undertaken on a weir. To reduce the impact of salmon netting, Defra are considering options to expedite the phase out of mixed stock fisheries and changing the basis of regulating salmon netting. To improve spawning escapement, where rivers are not meeting their conservation limit, there is a need for more catch and release. Collective action across the range priorities is needed to conserve and enhance England’s salmon populations.

7. Discussion

Summit delegates identified a number of key issues and potential actions under three topic discussions which will now be considered. In summary, the views given were as follows:

Managing exploitation

1. Quotas as a means to manage the level of exploitation by net fisheries

The angling and fisheries NGOs said that if the closure of mixed stock fisheries was not brought forward, a quota on the number of fish that can be caught in the North East net fisheries should be introduced as soon as possible; the Environment Agency are already investigating this. It was noted that quotas are used extensively for sea fisheries management though they have not always been considered to be successful. Quotas for salmon fisheries have been used successfully in Ireland and Canada to implement a reduction in exploitation. Issues include discards and enforcement. There are other options to control effort such as adjusting the length of the fishing season. Their use requires careful evaluation prior to implementation.

2. Mixed stock net fisheries

The angling and fisheries NGOs argued for the immediate closure of these; NASCO and ICES guidance make clear the high risks involved. The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations said that this was not likely to solve the underlying problems; it is too easy to pick on salmon netting. It was noted that assessments of the effects of removing net fisheries should take account of both the socio-economic and wider environmental impacts. The Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities raised concern over displacement of fishing effort caused by the removal of salmon nets onto other sea fish species.

3. Funding to reduce net exploitation

The Minister said that in view of the tight funding settlement that Defra was expecting, Government funding for a net buy-out was unlikely. The NGOs responded that a Government contribution was essential if funding from private interests was to be secured. It was pointed out that anglers already contributed to salmon conservation through paying for fishing and contributions to conservation organisations, e.g. Wye and Usk Foundation. However, it was agreed that all funding options should be considered, such as the Irish salmon conservation stamp, which provided an additional levy on top of the rod licence to fund conservation works including net buy-outs

4. Stock assessment and conservation limits

If stock assessments were to lead to additional regulatory measures, there needed to be confidence in the approach being used to assess stock status. Earlier assessment would allow earlier management decisions to be made. There needed to be a review of assessment methods and of the data used in these.

5. Rod exploitation and catch and release

There was agreement that there should be a presumption against the killing of salmon from severely threatened stocks. However, the balance between mandatory and voluntary measures to reduce exploitation should be carefully considered. Anglers are worried about being required to practice even greater levels of catch and release, which could reduce angler numbers. While conservation considerations should be paramount, salmon should where possible be managed to realise the greatest socio-economic benefit. Anglers would like salmon and sea trout declared as sport fish only with no commercial exploitation for food.

Fish passage and habitat

1. Single or multi-species fish passage

Should we consider installing salmon specific fish passes where funding is limited rather than all-species passes? A pragmatic approach is required that provides for all species and ideally aims to restore natural river processes.

2. Wider impact of barriers

Barriers impact on flow, water quality, predation, substrate movements and natural river processes. Barrier removal has a range of benefits but all implications need to be considered.

3. Fish passage regulation

Increasing catchment connectivity needs to be a key objective of the proposed fish pass regulations. Political commitment is required to drive this through.

4. Upstream and downstream passage

Improving upstream passage is a key action to increase extent of spawning and juvenile habitat including headwaters and small streams. It’s vital to provide for downstream smolt passage in freshwater and estuaries.

5. Funding and delivery

Contaminated land legislation could be used to address orphan structures. Too much red tape remains. Rivers Trusts are well placed to deliver. Take a strategic long-term approach and target action. Involve communities, e.g. adopt a river scheme. Use the Institute of Fisheries Management and Atlantic Salmon Trust’s small streams training programme. River fencing allows natural recovery and is quick and cheap.

Agriculture and water quality

1. Clear priorities and messages

The Campaign for the Farmed Environment and LINK Farms work because they are about local activity. NFU feel voluntary measures often work best. It’s important to be clear about priorities, build on existing initiatives and not to give contradictory messages. Talk to farmers about ecology and the environment. Use education and work with agricultural colleges. Focus existing and new funding streams to maximise the benefits to catchment ecosystem services. Water company initiatives are demonstrating benefits to their business through improved farming practice. Advice to farmers needs to demonstrate improved profitability from the application of best practice. Best value advice can be provided by the third sector.

2. Evidence

Sediment fingerprinting is a very powerful tool for providing evidence. It helps to turn things around.

3. Regulation and enforcement.

Firm regulation and enforcement plays a key role in ensuring uptake of best practice and environmental improvements. Sediment causes pollution. Enforcer, educator and funder roles should be separated.

4. Long-term view and resources

A long term strategic approach is required. Catchment Sensitive Farming is under resourced with phosphate being a key issue under the Water Framework Directive. Put money into the third sector who can deliver best value.

8. Next steps

The Environment Agency is now reviewing the valuable and extensive contributions made in the Summit.

The England Fisheries Group, in which the Environment Agency discusses strategic fisheries matters with the key national angling and fisheries representative bodies (Angling Trust, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Canal and Rivers Trust, Institute of Fisheries Management, Salmon and Trout Conservation UK, The Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust), will discuss how action for salmon should now proceed and the development of the Environment Agency’s 5 point approach.

Further development will proceed in the New Year to the extent and at the pace that Government and Environment Agency resources will allow.

Please go to the Fish Legal Tab to see even greater differences!


To Dr Peter Hutchinson of NASCO

Salmon School
North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization

(Please click on the red links to view the programmes: a real must.)


I enjoyed your talked on the work NASCO does at the North Wales Fisheries Conference last Friday.  It was good to hear that NASCO is considering the impact of salmon farming on wild fish stocks.  I have watched the Alex Morton documentary on the effects of salmon fish farms in Canada (BC) and the subsequent Inquiry which was an eye opener on just how NGO’s suppress data and gag their own researchers, fortunately since Justin Trudeau has taken over as Prime Minster of Canada the block on researchers talking about their findings has been lifted, it will be interesting to see what the likes of Kristi Miller has to say now they are free to disclose their findings. 

The lobbying by Alex Morton about the effects of fish farms finally seems to be getting the attention it deserves you can watch her documentary from this link (its 1 hour 10 min):  

There is a separate short video on a visit by Twyla Roscovich to Norway to talk to researchers:  this route was closed in Canada due to the gagging order. 

The films set out to paint a black picture of the effects on wild salmon from intensive fish farming and it has been severely criticised by the fish farming industry for inaccuracies.  I have read the annual reports from Marine Harvest and noted that they have invested a considerable amount of money modifying the feed they use in an attempt to reduce disease in their fish, they would not have undertaken this major capital expenditure if all was well.  I have also read some of the research papers on the effects of farmed salmon interbreeding with wild salmon, there are too many variables for any real conclusions on whether this is harmful or not.

I have an open mind on the salmon farming industry but the decline in wild salmon has accelerated as more salmon farms have been sited around the coast on the migration routes of salmon.  Fish from Welsh rivers pass the West Coast Irish fish farms and may also pass close to some of the Scottish West Coast fish farms.  The initial concerns on the effects from fish farms were all about sea lice infestations and the loss of sea trout in some Scottish Lochs, the focus now seems to have turned to pathogens/viruses emanating from fish farms.  I am not in a position to make any informed opinion on the pathogens from fish farms and how these affect wild salmon but the theory seems to fit the effects we are seeing i.e. fewer salmon returning and many of those that do not surviving to spawn. 

Year on year we are seeing more salmon dying before spawning, these are apparently healthy fish and do not appear to be showing signs of fungus.  I have fished the Tweed at Tracquire for the last three days of the Tweed season for the past few years and have discussed why there are so many dead salmon with the Ghillie who said there are always fish which die before spawning but he is worried by the increasing numbers.  Following a rise in water on the last Friday of the season several dead fish were washed past me and on Saturday morning I found what appeared to be a healthy cock fish being picked over by crows, this fish was in full spawning colours with no sign of fungus, if fish die before spawning catch and release will not help, I return all fish unless they are bleeding badly as a bleeding fish will not survive even if they swim away strongly, catch and release is not the answer. I have a week on the Scottish Dee in August and the reduction in the numbers of salmon over the past two years is worrying, this year there were no resident fish in the pools and the only fish we saw were grilse and summer salmon as they ran through the beat.  We have been told by NRW/EA/SEPA that the only way to conserve salmon is to have compulsory catch and release; this merely treats the symptoms and not the cause, the Scottish Dee has been operating catch and release for 20 years and their fish stocks are declining at the same rate as other UK rivers.   

In Wales NRW has forced the closure of their own and third party salmon and sea trout hatcheries despite there being no evidence of harm from well run mitigation hatcheries and in so doing have removed the most effective tool to mitigate for the decline in the recruitment of salmon.

It was interesting that you mention the problems associated with the Bay of Fundy so I have done some research – there are 96 salmon farms in the bay and this has, from what I have read, unbalanced the ecosystem in the bay, the effects are being seen in herring and sardines as well as salmon with some reports of lobsters also being affected. 

Whether the fish farms are to blame is open to debate but they certainly don’t help!

We are likely to see a major expansion of salmon farms along the West Coast of Scotland as the Scottish Government see this as an industry they should support and yet according to the Marine Harvest 2014 Annual report the industry employs less than 500 FTE’s, this pales into insignificance when compared to the number of Ghillies on Scottish rivers and the revenue from anglers fishing for salmon and staying in hotels, wild salmon is far more valuable to the rural economy than farmed fish, most of which is exported. 

I sincerely hope that NASCO can investigate the affect of fish farms on wild salmon populations and determine if they are the root cause of our declining Atlantic salmon stocks, fish farms may or may not be the cause but all the indicators point to them being a major contributor to the decline in wild fish stocks.  Maybe fish farms should be forced to use closed containment and not open sea cages.  Closed containment may be more costly than open sea cages but there are significant savings to be made from the reduction in the use of chemicals and antibiotics used at the moment, in one report it said that the loss of diseased salmon cost the industry circa $200M per year if closed containment prevents disease there is a saving to be made. 


Chris White

On Behalf of the Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries ( )

Are marine losses of salmon due to fish farms?

You may be aware that there are proposals to make virtually all rivers in Wales ‘Catch and Release’ in 2017 (this will also happen in England and Scotland).  The reason for imposing ‘catch and release’ is to conserve what few salmon manage to return to our rivers.  The evidence from the past 15 years of catch and release has shown that imposing catch and release has done nothing to preserve the spring stock so why do NRW/EA/SEPA consider total catch and release will make any difference?

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Watch this video of evidence gathered in Canada which attempts were made to suppress click here   Watching this film proved extremely emotional, it lasts almost an hour but is worth every second

One of the team’s views:

We have been told by NRW that anglers are not the problem and that it is marine losses which are the main issue but they have not provided any idea of what is happening at sea.  As NRW has closed all hatcheries in Wales the only tool left in the NRW box is to impose total catch and release for salmon and this may be extended to sea trout on some rivers.

So what is happening at sea?

The introduction of salmon farms along the West Coast of Scotland and Ireland coincided with the decline of salmon and sea trout in some Scottish rivers this was attributed to increased sea lice infestations on smolts.   As the salmon farming industry has expanded we are seeing fewer salmon returning to UK rivers and the question therefore has to be is there a link between increased production from salmon farms and declining wild fish stocks?

Fish farms just happen to be on, or close too,  the migration routes of salmon from UK rivers to the Greenland feeding grounds and it could be that these salmon farms are part of the problem.  The decline in Atlantic salmon numbers is not restricted to the UK the whole of the North Atlantic and some Pacific rivers are affected.  The common denominator is the rearing of Atlantic salmon in sea cages near to or on the migration routes of salmon, although there is no clear evidence to support this assumption.  We are well aware of sea lice infestations on smolts but in looking for answers to marine losses we have recently found a YouTube documentary from Canada which looks at the death of hundreds of sockeye salmon before they have spawned and in the documentary it is alleged that the sockeye salmon are picking up viruses as they migrate past salmon farms which are producing Atlantic salmon.

This is the link to the YouTube video (its 1 hour 10 minutes long), watch it and weep! we would ask that anyone finding a dead salmon which has not spawned (cock or hen) and looks in good condition to examine the carcase and look for indication of disease as shown in the documentary.  We need to take action now before salmon disappear from our rivers for ever.

Llyn Padarn: the battle continu

Fish Legal Media ReleaseMonday, November 23rd, 2015 Fish Legal
Fish Legal in High Court battle to save rare endangered fish at Llyn Padarn in North WalesThe latest round of litigation to save the endangered Arctic char at Llyn Padarn in North Wales is set to kick off on the 24th November at Caernarfon court centre.Fish Legal, representing its member club the Seiont Gwyrfai & Llyfni Anglers’ Society (the “Society”), will confront Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Ministers and Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water (DCWW) in a 2-3 day Judicial Review trial.

Fish Legal and the Society are seeking to establish that the regulator has (yet again) taken an unlawfully narrow view of what constitutes environmental damage to the char and its protected habitat, primarily from the raw sewage and treated effluent discharged by DCWW into the lake and surrounding area.

The fish is a genetically unique variety of char found only at Llyn Padarn and so is of high conservation value. The lake and the fish are notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (or SSSI), and form part of the Society’s fishing.

A further complaint, principally against the Welsh Ministers, is that they have failed to implement EU law obligations correctly in this area (under the Environmental Liability Directive), such that the wrong law is being applied by the regulator.

This new legal action follows on from a previous successful judicial review claim won by Fish Legal against NRW in May 2014. The anglers successfully argued then that NRW had failed to apply the correct implementation date for assessing damage to the fish from the pollution, and so it had not applied the law correctly. NRW was ordered by the court to re-do its investigation, but unfortunately this second attempt contains further legal errors, according to the Society.

NRW has told Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water that it is liable for just one aspect of the overall damage, namely having caused a toxic algal bloom in 2009. However, the regulator has failed to go further than that and identify that damage is being caused from treated and raw sewage entering the lake on an ongoing basis, to the char population or to its habitat.

Huw Hughes, the Society’s Secretary, said: “I have been involved in this situation since 1992, but it seems only now the regulator and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water are slowly coming to terms with having caused this damage, and even now we are having to take them to court. It’s been awful.”

William Rundle, Head Solicitor at Fish Legal, commented:“Natural Resources Wales has presided over long-term damage to the lake and its protected fish. In large part this is through its failure to regulate appropriately the sewage pollution impacts. Even now, it would seem that they are not applying the relevant legal framework to properly safeguard the char’s future.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “The regulator’s management of this situation over more than two decades has been a complete shambles and we hope that this judicial review will finally make them get a grip. It is well documented that sewage discharges have degraded this wonderful lake and its fish stocks, by Dwr Cymru Welsh Water pouring raw and treated sewage effluent into its waters. We cannot understand why NRW does not require DCWW to divert the sewage away from this conservation site.”

Angling Trust win in court

Angling Trust Media Release

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Angling Trust Logo
Court victory shows protecting our precious rivers and wetlands is no longer a ‘last resort’


Today, the Angling Trust, Fish Legal and WWF-UK’s Judicial Review secured a major step forward for the protection of our country’s most important rivers and wetlands.

The High Court judge recognised the need for urgent action to protect these precious places and the wildlife that lives there.

As a result of the legal victory today, the Government must evaluate the use of mandatory Water Protection Zones (1) alongside voluntary steps by farmers, which have so far failed to protect these vulnerable places from farm pollution.

The environmental organisations claimed that ministerial involvement had stifled necessary action to reduce pollution from farms harming England’s ‘natural’ crown jewels.

The judge, Sir Andrew Collins, said: “It is obviously of the greatest importance that proper measures are taken as soon as possible to meet the obligations of the Directive (2). We all know our wildlife is suffering as a result of pollution and not only just wildlife, people as well.”

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of WWF-UK, said: “This takes the ministerial handcuffs off the Environment Agency which can now better protect our most precious rivers and wetlands.

“The Government must now act with haste and put necessary measures in place to tackle pollution from farms that is devastating these specially protected sites.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “This is a win for cherished species like the kingfisher, salmon and trout which are seriously threatened by this pollution.

“This is a clear message to Government that they must stop dragging their feet and they must now take the necessary steps to improve the health of these precious rivers and wetlands.”

David Wolfe QC, said: “Defra and the EA’s new statement should mean that they will now actively consider WPZs as the way of delivering benefits for the environment rather than waiting until other approaches had demonstrably failed before even turning to them.”



1. Water Protection Zones are the primary regulatory tool identified by the Government to tackle agricultural pollution. A WPZ provides a legal framework for introducing bespoke local measures to reflect the needs of a specific catchment that are not being tackled by existing voluntary measures.

2. Water Framework Directive: The EU’s Water Framework Directive (WFD) came into force in December 2000. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters (rivers and lakes), transitional waters (estuaries), coastal waters and groundwater to ensure that all aquatic ecosystems meet Good Status by 2015.

During the case the Judge asked the defendants to agree with the claimants what steps to be taken to progress WPZs in the future. An agreement was subsequently reached between the parties.

For further information, please contact
Mike Eames 07917 052948

Angling Trust
The Angling Trust is the national representative and governing body for angling in England. It is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal, a separate membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK. Joint membership packages with Fish Legalare available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories.

Find out all about the Angling Trust and its work or call us on 01568 620447