Last update: 27th February 2015.

Fish Legal: fighting for anglers and our rivers

Sent: Wednesday, 25 February 2015, 17:38
Subject: Urgent News: Major Victory To End Water Company Secrecy About Pollution and Abstraction

Pictured: William Rundle (Fish Legal, Head Solicitor), David Wolfe QC (Matrix Chambers)
and Penelope Gane (Fish Legal)
 Wednesday 25th February 2015

Major Victory To End Water Company Secrecy About Pollution and Abstraction

Fish Legal has won a major victory in our groundbreaking case against Yorkshire Water Services Ltd and United Utilities Plc, which was the culmination of the six year legal campaign for greater transparency within the water and sewerage industry which we have reported to members before.
The Upper Tribunal ruled last Friday that water companies in England & Wales are ‘public authorities’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information Regulations (2004) and so are now under a legal duty to disclose environmental information they hold to the public.
The implications of this test case, which has been fought over the past 6 years, will be felt industry-wide. It could also affect companies operating in other privatised industries which have a similar role managing resources and services of public interest, such as the oil, gas, electricity providers and the Royal Mail.
Fish Legal often wants to know about sewage pollution and over-abstraction that damages rivers and coastal waters to help us fight legal cases on behalf of our member clubs and fishery owners. This judgment means we now have a right to get this information directly from the water companies themselves. In the past, several companies refused to provide any information when asked, whilst others expressly refused to disclose information in line with this law. The Judges in this case ruled they were wrong to do so.  Any concerned individual or organisation now has a right to the environmental information held by the water and sewerage companies.
The water and sewerage industry causes significant damage to the environment every year. This is partly due to the very nature of what it does in treating sewage and abstracting water, but in many cases is due to mismanagement and underreporting of incidents. The industry will now have to open up what it does to much greater public scrutiny.
We are delighted with this result, which has at long last asserted the rights of our angling members, and the wider public, to get information from these companies when they cause pollution or other damage. Being able to obtain environmental information directly about activities that affect the environment will make it much easier to deal with complex issues affecting fisheries. We sincerely hope that with the industry’s greater accountability will come higher environmental performance.
This is a huge victory for the environment and for fish and fishing. Our legal team at Fish Legal has done a brilliant job fighting this case over the past 6 years, taking on some of the largest companies in the country and winning. This has only been possible because of the support of members of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, whose subscriptions enable us to fight these battles for the benefit of all anglers and the water environment. Once again, we have demonstrated that when anglers unite, we can be a very powerful force for good.
Please click here to forward this message to every angler you know and encourage them to join us so that we can do more work like this for the benefit of all fish and fishing.  There are lots of challenges we could take on if we had more funds.
If you are not a member yourself, please join
the Angling Trust & Fish Legal HERE or by calling 01568 620447

Fishing IS good for you.

7 reasons fishing is good for you

Last updated: 11 February 2015, 13:04 GMT

Fishing doesn’t always get the best press.

For all Robson Green’s extreme shark-hunting, the general image is that the pastime is a bit staid, a bit boring, and generally a bit pointless.

But this view of fishing is a red herring. Angling is far from all those things, as a new ITV4 series, The Big Fish Off, hopes to prove.

The five-week show will see celebrities ranging from the aptly named David Seaman to Ollie Locke of Made in Chelsea fame do battle in an assortment of fishing challenges.

But no matter who catches the biggest fish, they’ll all be winners, because just whiling away a few hours on the riverbank brings these health benefits…

Fishing increases your Vitamin D

It doesn’t have to be sunny while you angle, simply being outside will help your body top up its critical Vitamin D reserves. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, keeping your bones and teeth healthy, and has also been linked to helping battle depression.

Ups your concentration

Being outside also improves your ability to concentrate, according to research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Walking in nature or simply spending time under leafy trees prompts “electrochemical changes in the brain” which lead to a “highly beneficial state of effortless attention”.

Lowers your stress

Surveys of keen anglers have found that their main motivation is not just about what they might catch, but about what they can leave behind. Nearly 90% said escaping crowds was their ultimate goal, and there are now even charities supporting the power of fishing to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Helps your heart

OK, this one does slightly depend on you hooking a prize specimen, but if you do catch something, you’ve got yourself a low-fat meal that’s packed with blood pressure-lowering and heart disease-reducing Omega-3 fatty acids.

Angling keeps you fit

It might look like a lot of sitting around but a good fishing session can be very good exercise, toning your arms, and burning between 250 calories if you’re just sitting and 500 calories if you’re angling in waders.

It gives you a challenge and perspective. Like any sport, fishing helps fill that basic human desire for purpose. “Fishing, like many outdoor activities or farming practices, puts you at one with nature. You’re the hunter, the provider,” says Lucy Downing of Visit North Norfolk.

“You belong and have a purpose. In all, fishing takes you back to the very essence of humanity – giving you a sense of place in the world.”

Fishing boosts friendship

While there is no specific scientific formula for what makes a good male bonding activity, one that includes hunting things, buying lots of kit and having an excuse to drink a few beers is probably as good as you’ll get.

Certainly, a National Angling Survey a few years ago revealed over 38% of anglers were introduced to fishing by a parent, 19% by another family member and 26.6% by a friend, suggesting that familial and friendship groups are vital for the development of angling participation.

And yes, of course women go fishing too, but the same survey had a response rate that was 97% male.

The most important post ever added to this web site

I should perhaps of have added, or any other web site.

Click on this link: it kind of puts things into perspective, including this campaign.

Click here and then expand the item to full screen

Has the Tide Turned in Support of Recreational Sea Angling?

Let us hope that this is the start of a turn around in political opinion with regard to angling in general. There are lots of us and generally we remain silent on these matters, we are by nature contemplative rather than overtly exuberant with regard to most issues but…  For the full article see under the Angling Trust tab.



Trawler at sea (image used for illustrative purposes only)
Something remarkable happened in Parliament this week.  There was a debate about the parlous state of our bass stocks and every MP who spoke in the chamber supported dramatic reductions in commercial fishing, writes Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd.  Many went further and proposed that bass should be only be legally caught by rod and line because recreational angling is so much more valuable to the economy and to society.  No, you’re not dreaming.  It really happened!


Will NRW follow this example?


550_Operation TRAVERSE 7
Pictured: Operation TRAVERSE – launch posterOn 12 November 2014, the Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire, Mr Peter Davies, opened Operation TRAVERSE – targeting illegal fishing and fish theft in Fenland – a partnership approach involving Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Police, the Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Cefas Fish Health Inspectorate.Mr Davies said:
We have listened to our communities and recognise that poaching and fish theft is of increasing concern – and also now appreciate both the wider criminal implications and negative impact on the environment and livelihoods. This is an important operation which we are pleased to work with all our partners to deliver‘.

Police and Environment Agency operational and call-taking staff have been briefed accordingly – and both anglers and the general public are urged to report incidents in progress, anything suspicious or other information to either the police on 101 or Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 – citing Operation TRAVERSE.

The launch of Operation TRAVERSE also featured a visit and briefing by Polish PSR government fisheries enforcement officers.

Last year, key Angling Trust enforcement staff visited Holland, researching how fisheries enforcement is approached there; earlier this year, a trip to Poland forged links with the PSR. Angling Trust ‘Building Bridges’ Project Manager Rado Papiewski, said:
We were extremely impressed with the professional and effective approach to fisheries enforcement in Poland. For that reason we felt that the enforcement agencies in England would benefit from learning more first-hand from the PSR – and sharing Best Practice. Kommandant Macieo Bialy and Rafal Sosnowski of the PSR, therefore, visited England at the Angling Trust’s invitation, briefing police officers and Environment Agency staff regarding their approach to this shared problem. Everyone from the British authorities who met the PSR officers was impressed and keen to see this new approach, learning from other countries, was maintained and developed. We are now liaising with the Lithuanian authorities. This more holistic approach is undoubtedly the way forward to achieve a greater understanding between all involved‘.

‘Building Bridges’ seeks to educate migrant anglers regarding British angling law and catch and release culture; further details can be found HERE:

Operation TRAVERSE has been brought to the attention of Daniel Kawczynski MP, Envoy to the Prime Minister on Polish and Eastern European Diaspora in the UK:
I appreciate and understand the concern amongst anglers regarding poaching and fish theft, and applaud the Angling Trust for leading on resolving these issues through a responsible partnership approach. I am particularly impressed that this work includes the long-term strategy of educating and integrating migrant anglers through the all-important “Building Bridges” project. This is crucial, because cultural differences concerning taking fish, which are causing problems in some areas of the country, must be addressed not only through direct enforcement, where necessary, but also through education, to help ensure these problems do not occur in the first place. Migrant anglers, however, have also positively contributed to the sport and have joined the Voluntary Bailiff Service – so we must understand that we are dealing with a minority; not all migrant anglers from Eastern Europe break our laws – and it is important to remember that. It is very pleasing to see how the innovative Operation TRAVERSE contributes to the bigger picture of Rural & Wildlife Crime, which is of concern to many people – and is a great example of cooperation, intelligence-sharing and partnership working. This is a vital opportunity to raise awareness of poaching and fish theft, and positively engage with migrant anglers; I wholeheartedly commend this proactive approach and thank the Polish authorities for their cooperation and assistance‘.

Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE said:
To resolve poaching and fish theft we need to raise awareness and properly locate the issue within the wider framework of Rural, Wildlife and Organised crime. The only way forward is to work in partnership and share intelligence on an international basis, and work on direct enforcement action alongside long-term prevention. We are, therefore, delighted with the support provided by Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire Police, and look forward to working with all our partners. We are especially pleased, of course, to have the support of Mr Kawczynski in pushing this issue higher up the list of political priorities. What we need now is for anglers and the general public to make that call‘.

Copies of the poster promoting Operation TRAVERSE can be obtained from PC Nick Willey at Lincolnshire Police: call 101.

More Information
Information regarding reporting incidents to the police can be found HERE:

Further information on the Fisheries Enforcement Campaign can be obtained from Dilip Sarkar: or 07971 677639.

Further information concerning Operation TRAVERSE can be obtained from PC Nick Willey at Lincolnshire Police: or 07768 501895

Further information concerning ‘Building Bridges’ can provided by Rado or 07527 79925

Photographs for Download
1. Mr Peter Davies, Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, opens Operation TRAVERSE with the Angling Trust’s National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE. Click HERE.

2. The Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, with his Envoy on Polish and Eastern European Diaspora in the UK, Daniel Kawczynski MP – who supports Operation TRAVERSE. Click HERE.

3. Police and Environment Agency staff pictured with Polish PSR officers, Kommandant Macieo Bialy and Rafal Sosnowski, at the launch of Operation TRAVERSE. Click HERE.

4. A briefing at Boston Police Station, involving police, Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Polish PSR staff, before the first day of joint patrols across Fenland. Click HERE.

5. Kommandant Macieo Bialy of the PSR, who shared Best Practice concerning fisheries enforcement in Poland, Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officer Mihael Wildash, and PC Nick Willey of Lincolnshire Police. Click HERE.

6. PC Nick Willey of Lincolnshire Police, Kommandant Macieo Bialy of the Polish PSR, and Environment Agency Fisheries Enforcement Officer Michael Wildash, on patrol during the first day of Operation TRAVERSE – all anglers checked were appropriately licensed. Click HERE.

7. The Lincolnshire Police poster promoting Operation TRAVERSE and urging anglers and the general public to report incidents and information. Click HERE.

Voluntary Bailiff Service in England?

Pictured: The new Deputy Area Coordinators Russ Bates, John Chappell and Brian MarlowAngling Trust Press Release
For Immediate Release
Tuesday 4th November 2014

Voluntary Bailiff Service Appoints New Deputy Area Coordinators

The Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS) pilot project in SE England has now been running for two and a half years, and looks forward to a particularly significant and exciting New Year.

VBS efforts are locally overseen by Area Coordinators (AC), and with a busy time ahead Deputy Area Coordinators (DAC) have now been appointed to our busiest areas: Russell Bates in West Thames, John Chappell in South London & Kent, and Brian Watling in Solent.

DACs will support ACs and provide cover during periods of leave or when other life commitments take priority. This is to ensure continuity, improve communication and increase quality delivery.

DAC Russell Bates said: ”I am entirely committed to the VBS, thouroughly enjoy my involvement and am keen to support the Angling Trust and Environment Agency (EA) howsoever I am able through the VBS“.

DAC John Chappell said: ”The VBS is a really important initiative, enabling anglers to receive proper training and support the EA in proecting fish and fisheries. I am looking forward to getting more involved“.

DAC Brian Watling said: ”Communication is really important, and I am very happy to help our AC, Keith Dipper, is keeping things on track and moving in the right direction“.

EA VBS Project Manager Adrian Brightley said: ”The EA is very grateful to all our volunteers, and really appreciate the time they invest in supporting our work. We welcome the appointment of DACs and very much look forward to working with them“.

Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE, said: ”Anglers are often accused of being apathetic – but the VBS confirms that there are people out there prepared to step up and help protect fish and fisheries. We have proved that VBS works, and, in line with other European countries, look forward to expanding coverage nationally in due course and increasing the support we can provide. The new DACs are most welcome and to be commended for their commitment to the cause“.

Anyone interested in the VBS should contact and

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This is a very sad day for me and, I’m sure many many anglers. The NRW Board have made their decision.

The Campaign submitted their comments to no avail. It would be remiss of me not to place on record thanks to all those that took the time to respond, especially to Chris White, who has been ferret like in his determination to counter the evidence put forward by NRW and others, in support of their argument.


There follow the text of the email I received today in response to the Campaigns submission


Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to our consultation on ‘NRW’s salmon stocking, third party salmon stocking and the future of NRW’s hatcheries’. I’m writing to you today so that I can update you of our Boards’ decision on the way forward.

As you know, last year we reviewed our approach to salmon stocking, and the associated hatchery operations. We considered a wide range of evidence, and concluded that this evidence clearly suggested that salmon stocking is not effective and could harm wild populations. We consulted on these findings and received 112 responses to the public consultation. While the majority of responses opposed our proposals, very little new evidence was provided.

NRW Executive Directors reviewed the consultation feedback, the evidence for change and NRW’s legal obligations. They concluded that, on the strength of the evidence, the recommendations of the review should stand – and that stocking of both salmon and sea trout should end without delay. Yesterday, the NRW Board ratified this decision.
In the short term, this policy change will mean that, where salmon and sea trout are currently held in NRW and 3rd party hatcheries, they will be used to complete the hatchery cycle and the fish will be stocked out before the end of 2015. The Mawddach and Maerdy hatcheries will close and any ongoing commitments will be transferred to Cynrig hatchery near Brecon. We will also be assessing the feasibility of developing a freshwater research centre at the Cynrig site.

We recognise that some people will not agree with this decision but we strongly believe that this is the best course of action to secure the future of wild salmon and angling in Wales. We will now make time to meet with those affected by this decision to agree alternative ways to ensure that Wales’ rivers have healthy and thriving salmon populations.


Michael Evans
Head of Evidence, Knowledge and Advice
Natural Resources Wales

Closure of Welsh hatcheries? See NRW Board paper

NRW Board paper. Click on the link below to see the paper and recommendation to the board to close Welsh hatcheries. We supported mitigation.

Board paper October 2014

Click on the link. Makes you think.

Click here  then click play. Amazing!!!

Season extension applications closing date Friday 26th September

Click Here to Register Now



Police Chief pledges to act on fish theft


Angling Trust Media Release

Tuesday 26th August 2014

Angling Trust Logo
The Angling Trust has won support from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to ensure that all Chief Officers in England and Wales will receive training about poaching and fish theft, and pass this on to their operational staff.  The National Policing Lead for Wildlife & Rural Crime, Simon Prince (Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys), one of the most senior police officers in the country, has given his backing to the initiative which will ensure that the police respond properly to reports of poaching and fish theft.To date, anglers have been frustrated when reporting criminal offences connected with poaching and fish theft to the police due to confusion amongst call-handlers and operational police officers who have not been aware of their duties and responsibilities in this area.

Retired police officer and Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar MBE has been working to address this issue with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and individual forces over the past two years.

ACPO comprises Chief Officers – the nation’s “Top Cops” – and in response to the evidence presented to him by Dilip Sarkar, theNational Policing Lead for Wildlife & Rural Crime, Mr Simon Prince, Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys, said:

“As fish poaching can happen at any time and anywhere, I agree that there needs to be a greater awareness within the police service of the legislation that can be used to combat the problem. I have therefore caused a briefing note to be created and distributed to all Chief Officers in England & Wales, to be cascaded down to call-taking staff and operational police officers. That, together with the work the Angling Trust has been carrying out with our network of Wildlife Crime Officers, will hopefully achieve the outcome that we all desire”.

Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar MBE said: “This is a massive step forward, which will bring an end to what, for anglers, has been an unacceptable situation. We understand that the problem was caused by an omission in training and it is great that this will finally be addressed. We are, however, entirely supportive of the problems faced by the police today, and share ACPO’s desire to work in partnership. We are extremely grateful to Mr Prince in particular, and to the National Wildlife Crime Unit, for essential and ongoing understanding and support – which ultimately means poachers will increasingly find themselves with criminal records and being prosecuted”.

Dale Whittaker, Secretary of Nottinghamshire Piscatorial Society, said: “We have recently reported a number of incidents to the local police but officers have clearly been confused and their response sometimes inappropriate. This has then taken time for the Angling Trust to resolve with Nottingham Police – so this is great news, because at last it means that police staff will be properly informed and can get things right from the start. This is a terrific step forward and we commend all involved”.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said: “Many fishery owners and angling clubs have, quite rightly, been pressing us to take this issue to the highest level.  I am very grateful to ACPO and to Chief Constable Prince for their support in bringing poachers to book for the damage that they do to fish stocks, to rural businesses and to the enjoyment of millions of anglers.  We hope that more prosecutions will send a clear message to the poachers and fish rustlers that they cannot get away with criminal activity any longer.”

Anglers can find all they need to know about reporting offences to the police HERE.



Notes for editors

Download photo: For full size photo of Chief Constable Simon Prince please click HERE

Photo credit: Dyfed-Powys Police Press Office

Contact: Dilip Sarkar - | Tel: 07971 677638

The Angling Trust
The Angling Trust is recognised by the government as the single representative body for all game, coarse and sea angling in England. It fights for fish and fishing by working to improve and protect fish stocks, promoting the benefits of angling for all, standing up for the environment and supporting excellence in angling and as the governing body for national and international match fishing and angling development

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Simon Prince, Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys

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.


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Link to National Wildlife Crime Unit added

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