Campaign's Conservation Officer Chris White's closing statement to the Planning Hearing

President Allan Cuthbert 7 Norton Avenue Prestatyn Denbighshire LL19 7NL   Email: 1highplains@gmail.com   Strategy Officer John Eardley c/o Vanner Farm & Caravan Site  Llanelltyd  Dolgellau  Gwynedd  LL40 2HE Email: johneardley@btinternet.com   Conservation Officer Chris White  57 Normanby Drive Connahs Quay Flintshire CH5 4JX   Email:chriswhite.cohite@gmail.com

6 March 2019

THE WALES ROD AND LINE (SALMON AND SEA TROUT) BYELAWS 2017

THE WALES NET FISHING (SALMON AND SEA TROUT) BYELAWS 2017

Closing Statement

Chris White on behalf of the Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries

  1. The Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries (CPWF) is a voluntary organisation supporting grass roots anglers across Wales who would have found it difficult to present at the inquiry but wanted their voices to be heard.  In recognition of this CPWF has represented 21 angling clubs, riparian owners and organisations from across Wales at the inquiry.  These organisations have given their permission for CPWF to represent them and have been involved in the preparation of the CPWF evidence.  
  2. To a lay person the technical case for the byelaw presented by NRW is compelling as noted in the evidence paper[1] submitted by Mr Tony Harrington representing Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) and declared as a supporter for the NRW proposals in which he says “The evidence presented by Natural Resources Wales in relation to the decline of salmon stocks is both comprehensive and compelling”. To those with little knowledge of migratory fish, and the issues which have resulted in their decline, the proposals appear to be proportionate; however, there is no evidence that the byelaws in themselves will reverse this decline.  
  3. The evidence presented by objectors has demonstrated their willingness to support voluntary measures and in presenting their evidence objectors have explained how clubs impose rules upon their members in order to conserve fish stocks which are far more effective than byelaws.   These rules apply to individual sections of a river and reflect the present byelaws for that river system, that is byelaws which have been agreed over years with the agency at that time.
  4. The basis of the NRW evidence, such that it is, in the Technical Case relies upon the methodology and statistical techniques used to estimate the Conservation Limit (CL) for each river system.   This methodology was originally developed on the River Bush in Northern Ireland, a river which has 100% entrapment of returning adults and migrating smolts and has known water quality and carrying capacity i.e. input parameters are known quantities.  The developer of the statistical model (now deceased) states in the original published paper that the model may not be transportable as it had been developed against known, quantifiable, parameters based on a single river system.  
  5. In the CPWF evidence[2] I refer to extracts from technical papers (W64 and W65) commissioned by the Environment Agency in 1997 which clearly identifies the flaws in a methodology developed for a single river system with known parameters, the river Bush in this case.  Most significant is the assumption of water quality which is pristine and marine survival as a known quantity both of which have a significant effect on the error generated by this methodology.  The subsequent plotting of a regression curve of egg deposition based upon input data which has been shown in our evidence to be flawed puts severe doubt on NRW claiming this as the basis for the proposed byelaws as it shows most rivers as being ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to meet their CL in five years’ time.  Forward projection of this regression line is the basis of the NRW Technical case and historically this has been found to be unreliable. 
  6. CPWF analysis[3] of the accuracy of NRW 5 year forward stock status

“predictions” (predictions for the plotted regression line) of Welsh rivers based upon angler catch returns in the four years from 2013 to 2016 shows inaccuracy in catch returns, with only: 41% correct in 2013, 41% correct in 2014, 27% correct in 2015, and 18% correct 2016.  

  • The flaws and subsequent inaccuracy of the present CL model is recognised by NRW and in their rebuttal evidence documents[4] NRW provides a link to a research paper: the ICES Journal of Marine Science, Volume 73, Issue 6, 1 June 2016, Pages 1513–1524 which describes a more accurate methodology for predicting conservation limits (CL).  This paper was first published in March 2016 and was therefore available to NRW prior to the presentation to the NRW Board in January 2018.  Had this revised methodology been presented to the NRW Board in January 2018 it may have persuaded the Board to defer their decision until the revised methodology had been tested.   NRW has recognised a need to review the CL methodology and state that they will be working with the EA and CEFAS on a revised methodology and will review the situation in 5 years once a new methodology is adopted.
  • Counsel for NRW went out of their way to disrupt Mr Ashwin’s evidence claiming that in trying to describe a very complicated statistical model Mr Ashwin was introducing new evidence.  In the same vein the NRW Counsel complained that the Drs O’Hagan and Fop the Dublin consultants independent assessment of the methodology was inadmissible as Mr Ashwin could not provide an engagement letter which clearly advised Drs O’Hagan and Fop that the present CL regression line was based upon Bayesian methodology.  
  • In his oral evidence Mr Barry, a statistician employed by CEFAS, explained that differences in the statistical methodology was just an argument between academics on the most appropriate method and that he personally supported

the present model.  In the O’Hagan and Fop paper[5] they recommend the use of a time-based methodology and in the link to the revised methodology[6] much of what O’Hagan and Fop advocated has been applied. This revised methodology also includes the use of the Monte Carlo simulation used to model the probability of different outcomes in a process that cannot easily be predicted due to the intervention of random variables.  Due to the random variables used in the present methodology NRW plot a graph as a ‘best fit’ based upon a theoretical curve known as a Ricker curve.  This best fit is simply an educated guess which is no basis to introduce legislation let alone use this as an excuse to hide behind a ‘precautionary approach’.

  1. In simple terms the present statistical model is flawed i.e. rubbish-in = rubbishout. This is primarily due to input variables based upon uncertain data with reliance on the assumption that water quality is pristine and that angler rod catch returns are accurate.  The present methodology takes no account of variables such as flood events, pollution, and predation and assumes a split between 1 Sea Winter (1SW) and Multi Sea Winter (MSW) salmon which due to changes in the marine environment is no longer valid.  In his proof of evidence Mr Davidson[7] identifies the shift in run composition from 1SW to MSW salmon and yet this is not, at this time, factored into the calculation of the CL i.e. more eggs are being deposited due to greater numbers of MSW fish returning to our rivers.
  2. The river Dee is a highly modified water course due to the river being used as a conduit to transport water from the Celyn reservoir to pumping stations. The Dee is used as an index river[8] and as such assessments of CL and smolt output are used as benchmarks for other rivers in Wales.  Any errors in the Dee assessment are therefore replicated in all Welsh rivers, Mr Ashwin for CPWF covers this issue in his closing statement.
  3. In the proof of evidence from Mr Gough[9] it is recognised that many migratory fish stocks have been in decline for the past decade (this is not disputed by CPWF) this is despite the response from anglers who have increasingly voluntarily returned the salmon they catch[10].  It should be noted that whilst anglers have responded over the past decade there has been little or no response from NRW or its predecessor agencies in identifying and taking positive action to reverse this decline i.e. NRW and its predecessor agencies have failed in their statutory duty to ‘maintain fisheries’, there has only been reliance on anglers taking action.  NRW now leans heavily on a precautionary approach due to their lack of objective evidence in an attempt to cover up their failings in maintaining fisheries whilst accepting that angler exploitation is not the issue.
  4. In his proof of evidence Mr Gough states that logic indicates that if more fish are saved it will lead to increased spawning resource, leading to the production of greater numbers of juvenile fish.  Whilst this appears to be a logical argument it is not supported by evidence.  
  5. In the NRW evidence[11] there is a table showing the exploitation rate and catch return rate on the Dee between 1992 and 2017.  This table as with several others in the NRW evidence is misleading as the exploitation rate is based upon declared catch returns (fish caught by anglers) and not the exploitation based upon the estimated number of salmon which enter the river.  Recreational angling is not an efficient method of catching migratory fish.  It is estimated that anglers catch between 10% and 15% of salmon which enter our rivers, Mr Davidson (NRW) estimated that this can be as high as 20% in some years.  In my evidence I produced slides[12] to illustrate the core issues, in slide 5 I used data from an NRW spreadsheet showing salmon catch rates during 2016.  From this slide it can be shown that in 2016 the exploitation by anglers assuming anglers catching 15% (the average is more likely 12%) of the total number of salmon which enter Welsh rivers equates to an exploitation of 3% (only 50% of these would be hen fish). In his oral presentation Dr Mawle suggested that exploitation is between 3% and 4% on the river Usk.    On an individual river basis, using the 2016 data, the exploitation rate for each river varies between 1% and 8% i.e. there are more than enough fish surviving to spawn and it is the in-river losses which must be addressed. Whilst anglers can and do assist by voluntary measures in this process, they are not the prime cause of the decline, this is acknowledged by both NRW[13] and CEFAS[14].  I refer you to Fig 1 ‘From Egg to Sea and Back’ in the CPWF evidence (page 7) which demonstrates where the major losses occur. 
  6. Tackling in-river losses which NRW has clearly identified as a major problem would have a far greater effect in reversing the decline in fish stocks.  In her evidence[15] Ms Jenkins claims the ‘All Wales Byelaws’ are intended to preserve vital breeding resources whilst other matters suppressing environmental quality are addressed.  Exploitation of 3% of the spawning stock by anglers is hardly excessive and unlikely to deplete the ‘vital breeding resources’ as at best anglers catch only 15% of returning adults i.e. there are 85% of the ‘vital resource’ untouched.
  7. In her evidence Ms Jenkins held up one of NRW’s evidence documents and I commented that over the past 20 years we have seen many glossy brochures but little or no action.  In her response Ms Jenkins confirmed that actions could only be undertaken given funding and resource from the Welsh Government.  In my cross examination in response to Ms Jenkins introducing recreation and access I asked if under the precautionary approach restrictions would be applied to adventure activity on rivers due to the continual disturbance of spawning fish which has a significant impact on recruitment of juveniles.  I included this in the CPWF evidence[16] as I have been trying to get NRW and its predecessor agency (EA(W)) to protect spawning fish for more than 10 years.  The damage done by disturbance of fish on their spawning grounds has a far greater impact on recruitment than angler exploitation, an issue I addressed at a meeting with the head of inland fisheries for the WG in 2014.  Instead of protecting spawning

sites NRW positively encourages such disturbance due to the inaccurate advice provided on the NRW website.  This advice is based upon the river Wye and is not acceptable on the much smaller spawning streams in North Wales.  There is a perception that the byelaws are more about driving anglers from the whitewater rivers in North Wales to enable greater use by adventure activity companies irrespective of the impact on recruitment of migratory fish.  Should the byelaws be applied against anglers I will insist that under the precautionary approach these are extended to all invasive activity on rivers where migratory fish spawn between November and the end of January the following year.

  1. In the evidence from Mr Vaughan[17] he identifies quite clearly the land management areas which need to be addressed and that the Welsh Government (WG) intends to introduce legislation to address this.  Any legislation via WG will not be until 2020 at the earliest and, even then, there will be a phased implementation.  If as is continually expressed the byelaws respect the ‘precautionary approach’ why is it that agricultural pollution which causes so much damage to the aquatic environment has not been address over the past 20 years? This is despite angling organisations identifying this as a root cause of the decline in fish stocks during this time period.  It seems that it is convenient to use the precautionary approach as an excuse to impose legislation to cover up for the inaction of NRW and its predecessor agencies in addressing the decline in migratory fish stocks for the past 20 years.  
  2. Several times in questioning objectors Sir you referred to a suite of proposed legislation by the Welsh Government which you claimed was to support the byelaw proposals, there is no evidence to support your belief that these proposals are designed to support the byelaws it is just a happy coincidence that they may do.  In your questioning of Dr Marsh-Smith you asked if he was aware of the proposals in Mr Vaughan’s evidence, to which Dr Marsh-Smith replied that the proposed suite of measures was simply ‘aspirational’ and it remains to be seen if these promises are fulfilled.  There is no doubt that reducing agricultural pollution through selective land management legislation will potentially improve recruitment of migratory fish but there is still a long way to go before this is applied and even longer for it to become effective.  This is not a justification to apply a precautionary approach exclusively against anglers who have the least impact on fish stocks.  Put simply anglers are just an ‘easy target’.
  3. Whilst my preference is to voluntarily return all of my salmon, in my oral evidence I explained this is not always possible due to damage or stress when landing a fish resulting in mortality.   Those who voluntarily practice C&R do so with great care to avoid unnecessary harm, the same level of care may not be applied by those forced by legislation to return their fish. Returning a dead fish to the river does nothing to improve the spawning stock.  If it can be irrefutably demonstrated that salmon stocks in a river are on the point of extinction, then rivers should be closed to all salmon fishing although considerable resources would be needed to protect such rivers from poachers.  In cross examination of both Mr Gough and Mr Russell they were both asked if salmon stocks in any river in Wales were on the point of extinction, the answer by both individuals was they were not aware of any river in which salmon were on the point of extinction. They simply point to the CL regression line which predicts that this may happen.  
  4. Mr Barry for CEFAS in his oral evidence used a flip chart to demonstrate the logic behind the precautionary approach whilst accepting that the statistical predictions may not be correct, but it is better to err on the cautious side.  The problem with this approach is the resulting unnecessary economic impact of taking such a course of action.  Each river system is unique and should be assessed at a local level taking all variables into account i.e. droughts/floods/avian predation etc, all of which have a significant impact on migratory fish stocks.
  5. In his proof of evidence[18] Mr Gough identifies that improvements to habitat quality would be more effective if there are improving numbers of spawning fish to take advantage of this.  Full statutory C&R fishing for salmon and sea trout at all times has been in place on the rivers Taff and Wye for the past 7 years with little or no recovery in migratory fish stocks.  There is no evidence that the proposed byelaws will result in the reversal of the decline.   Improvements on the Wye are primarily due to habitat improvements and barrier removal.  
  6. In cross examination of Dr Marsh-Smith[19] by Mr John (an objector) about barrier removal on one of the lower tributaries of the Wye and its effectiveness Dr Marsh-Smith replied that in the first year 5 redds were observed above the barrier which had been removed and year on year more redds had been seen.  A maximum of 33 redds had been recorded on the newly available spawning areas and yet the Wye is still classed as ‘Probably at Risk’ but is predicted to be

‘Not at Risk’ within the next 5 years based upon forward projection of the regression curve.  As well as C&R restrictions the Wye imposed bait restrictions yet neither has resulted in a marked improvement in reversing the decline in migratory fish stocks over the past 20 years and any marginal improvement is more likely to be due to habitat improvement and barrier removal.  The Wye as with other rivers in Wales suffers from agricultural pollution and siltation.  

  • In his evidence Mr Gough states that despite these C&R controls, certain components of salmon stocks and some sea trout have continued to decline i.e. there is no evidence of their effectiveness.  Challenges on the effectiveness of C&R and method restrictions typically elicits the following response from NRW “we don’t know how much worse it would have been if the restrictions had not been applied”, this is merely opinion and not evidence. 
  • It is the decline[20] in the 1SW salmon (grilse) which has skewed the CL on most rivers as many electro fishing sites are predominately those used by 1SW salmon.  The effect of barrier removal above some of the electro fishing reference sites has not been factored in i.e. migratory fish will travel further up the spawning streams once the barriers have been removed making their original spawning sites underused.  Tackling in-river losses, which NRW has clearly identified as a major problem, would have a far greater effect in reversing the decline in fish stocks. 
  • In his proof of evidence Mr Gough concludes that based upon increase in numbers of MSW fish that this provides evidence of the efficacy of C&R and method restrictions.  After 20 years of compulsory C&R under the National

Salmon Regulations, if this was the case, our rivers would not be declared as

‘At Risk’, there is therefore no quantifiable evidence to support this opinion. Mr Gough frequently responded in his oral evidence with the statement ‘We believe’, belief is not evidence it is simply opinion.

  • Whilst there has been an increase in MSW salmon, the reasons behind this are unclear and complex.  I included in my evidence (Slide 18 & Page 27 of my proof of evidence) a graph taken from a presentation by Dr Nigel Milner which shows the variability of salmon catches across 7 North Wales rivers and I postulate that this graph shows the effect of the Irish Drift nets on the decline in salmon numbers in Welsh rivers.  In cross examination of Mr Russell, I asked if removal of in-river nets would have any effect on the numbers of fish available to spawn, he agreed that removal of in-river nets would have an effect.  I then asked why with the nets removed on both the Clwyd and the Dee there had been no improvement in rod catch or for that matter an improvement in the CL.  There was no answer to this.  The Dee historically supported at least 21 netsmen who killed all of the salmon they caught.  At that time anglers would also kill everything they caught and yet the river could support this level of exploitation.  The reasons for the continuing decline in migratory fish stocks have been recognised in the evidence present by NRW and yet, at this time, these issues are not being addressed just more glossy brochures with empty promises.  
  • The byelaws will have no effect in reversing the decline even if the root causes of the decline are addressed.  There is however clear evidence that anglers have responded through voluntary measures which can be further improved upon with co-operation.  NRW are aware of where anglers are not meeting the required 90% release rate.  Rather than invest a fraction of the cost of this inquiry in education and co-operation NRW has chosen a confrontational path and, following the consultation, has ignored the objections and pursued the NRW preferred option in the full and certain knowledge that it will not achieve the desired objective.   
  • In his evidence Mr Randles[21] a netsman who used to operate on the Dee and now operates a licence on the Conwy explains that he had negotiated in the year 2000 with the Dee Fisheries Association for the removal of 21 nets from the river Dee, these nets have not operated since 2008 following a 10 year net limitation order which was extended for a further 10 years in 2018.  Despite the removal of these commercial nets on the Dee there has been no noticeable improvement in the numbers of returning salmon.  There has similarly been no recovery on the Clwyd following the buy-out of nets by the Federation of Clwyd Anglers some 10 years earlier than the Dee. Whilst the Dee as a cross border river is outside the scope of these byelaw proposals (at this time) the evidence from Mr Randles demonstrates that removal of nets has minimal effect on the recovery of fish stocks.  
  • In my cross examination of Mr Russell I asked if the improvements in MSW fish returning to Welsh rivers was linked to the cessation of the Irish drift net fishery,

in response Mr Russell replied that the Irish drift nets mainly caught grilse (1SW fish), whilst this may be true for Irish estuarial drift nets, this may not be the case for Irish high seas drift nets.  The return of reward tags by Irish netsmen taken from salmon which had been tagged at the Maerdy hatchery in North Wales clearly identifies that salmon bound for Welsh rivers were being caught off the coast of Ireland for a period of approximately 20 years.  The exploitation of these salmon coincides with the start of the steep decline in salmon numbers in Welsh rivers.  

  • There is no evidence that every river in Wales is in serious or similar decline.  The use of the regression line (based on estimated egg deposition) to predict a 5 year forward stock assessment has been demonstrated to be flawed.  The survival strategy of salmon accounts for poor spawning conditions and adverse weather events in that parr stay in their spawning streams for 1, 2 or 3 years, similarly adults stay for 1, 2 and 3 winters at sea i.e. there are always adults at sea to maintain the species.  This strategy results in the variability of angler catches as shown in the graph from Dr Nigel Milner used in my evidence.  Given pristine rivers and lower predation salmon stocks could recover quickly.
  • Rivers must be assessed individually as no two rivers are the same.  At the moment there are 10 regional sets of byelaws with rivers having different start and finish dates for fishing[22].  In addition, there are further restrictions which recognise that each river is unique.  Angling clubs and riparian owners recognise these local byelaws and differences in the rules they impose on anglers fishing their waters.  It was claimed by Mr Gough that by introducing an ‘all Wales’ byelaw it would simplify the understanding by anglers as there would be a single set of rules across Wales but this is unconnected to salmon conservation.  Local anglers fully understand the byelaws they have to comply with and the membership of their clubs re-enforce these byelaws in the club rules.  
  • There was some confusion by counsel representing NRW as under cross examination of Mr Woodford, who explained that the fry and parr counts on the Afon Ogwen in 2018 were the highest on record, only to be told that fry and parr counts are not part of the CL assessment.  Whilst this is true in terms of egg deposition, fry and parr counts are used to assess the success of spawning and this is a core part of the NRW Technical case based on the flood damage in 2015 and the poor fry and parr counts in 2016 which could lead to a lack of fish in 2020.  In cross examination of Mr Renwick, Mr Wald for NRW, asked if he was aware that the CL is based upon data from traps, counters and fry and parr counts which contradicts his previous comments.  The high fry and parr counts in 2017 and 2018 indicates that whilst there may be a reduction of adults returning in 2020 this is just a transient as reflected in the graph by Dr Nigel Milner.
  • The objective of the byelaw proposals is to reverse the decline in migratory fish stocks or, as Ms Jenkins says in her evidence,[23] to “preserve vital breeding resources whilst other matters suppressing environmental quality are addressed”.  Even if anglers killed all of the salmon they catch there would still be 85% of the total run of fish available to spawn based upon anglers only catching as much as 15% of the salmon which enter a river, the likelihood is that it is less.  NRW accept that anglers are not the problem.  Therefore, it appears the only justification for imposing these draconian measures against anglers is so that NRW can be seen to be doing something using the precautionary approach as an excuse, and to distract from the fact that NRW and its predecessor agencies have failed in their statutory duties to maintain migratory fish stocks for more than 20 years.  As Ms Jenkins eludes, this is just a stop gap measure “whilst other matters suppressing environmental quality are addressed”.  These “other matters” have been known to NRW and its predecessor agencies for more than 20 years and yet it is only now that they propose to take any action to address the root cause following a complaint to the EU by Afonydd Cymru i.e. the WG proposals are not in support of the proposed byelaws as they postdate the NRW 2015 Technical Case, it is simply convenient to claim they are in support of the proposals.
  • It is possible to restock rivers which have been affected by pollution events or flood damage.  The argument against stocking is due to the theory that this dilutes the gene pool.  There are very few, if any, rivers in Wales which have not been stocked with fish from other rivers.  In addition, salmon and sea trout frequently wander between river systems, radio tracking and tagging demonstrates this with one fish from a Canadian hatchery reportedly caught in the River Tyne and it is this characteristic that has repopulated rivers like the Taff and Mersey.  Whilst it is true to say that fish adapt to their environment there are many research papers which show that within three spawning cycles the off-spring have adapted to their river conditions.  Those that don’t will then fail to spawn.
  • In their evidence[24] NRW refers to regulations in other UK jurisdictions, what this Annex fails to describe is that in Scotland rivers are reviewed and assessed on an annual basis, working with riparian owners and Local Fishery Boards to ensure that accurate catch returns are recorded.  This enables rapid response to changes in stock status.  NRW has rejected working closely with local angling clubs in favour of heavy-handed legislation using the precautionary approach as an excuse.  Working with local anglers would arguably achieve an equal or better outcome than legislation that is unenforceable due to lack of resource.
  • In Mr Gough’s rebuttal evidence[25] with reference to enforcement he includes a histogram which indicates the decline in reported incidents of poaching; this graph was part of a presentation by the head of enforcement at the fisheries forum in October 2018.  In my evidence I included a second slide from the presentation by the head of enforcement for NRW (slide 37 in my presentation) and drew attention to the black triangles which show reports which are considered, according to the legend, to be ‘Not Significant’.  Each of those black triangles on the Conwy system is a report of poaching activity, poachers on the Conwy and other North Wales rivers kill far more salmon than all the anglers who fish the Conwy and yet according to NRW these incidents are not considered as significant.  Therefore few anglers report poaching incidents as there is rarely any response and, even if there is, it is an after-event response i.e. after the poachers have removed the salmon or sea trout.  NRW has said in its NASCO assessment that if the byelaws are implemented they will make enforcement of byelaws a priority, damage from poachers on the other hand are apparently treated as insignificant.
  • Potentially the quickest way to reverse the decline in migratory fish stocks would be to control avian predation and, whilst this is touched upon in the NRW

Technical Case,[26] there is no estimate given on the losses to fish eating birds (FEB’s).  On the Conwy system, based upon a count of FEB’s (Goosanders) over one year i.e. January to December, we estimate that we lose approximately 50,000 parr/smolt per year based on each of the FEBs eating 440gm of fish per day.  In his proof of evidence Mr Renwick[27] on Page 5 asks ‘where is the test bed river’? This is something I had explored some 10 years ago with the previous agency (EA(W)) local fisheries management team as in research from a Canadian East Coast river there was clear evidence that controlling FEBs made a significant improvement to the numbers of returning adults by enabling more smolts to reach the sea.  Fish stocks cannot recover where there is excessive exploitation by FEBs i.e. increasing recruitment of juvenile fish without effective FEB controls in place will just see more FEBs on the river as there will be a greater food source.

  • In my evidence I refer to the test for proportionality under UK Administrative Law[28] before byelaws are approved.  It is clear from the evidence presented to the inquiry that the imposition of the byelaws will not achieve the objective of reversing the decline in migratory fish stocks, even if the proposed WG legislation on land management is enacted and, even if enacted, this proposed land management legislation will not be for several years. If a precautionary approach is to be implemented against anglers then the same should be applied to agricultural pollution.
  • By pursuing legislation NRW has dismissed working with its stakeholders who have repeatedly demonstrated that they are willing to adopt effective voluntary measures.  It is interesting to read the sanitised minutes for Local Fishery Groups (LFG) meetings.  The sanitising of these minutes means that they are not a true reflection of what has been said at the meeting i.e. much of the, at times vociferous, criticism of the NRW has been filtered out.  In my presentation slides (slide 15) I included a copy of the minutes for the Dee LFG and you will see that by voluntary measures Corwen & District Anglers went from 48% C&R in 2011 to 94% in 2017, my own club varies between 98% and 100% C&R the variation being due to fish mortality and not the deliberate taking of fish.  The days when the majority salmon anglers kill everything they catch is very much a thing of the past.
  • Both Mr Eardley and I are members of the Clwyd, Conwy & Gwynedd Rivers Trust (Mr Eardley is Secretary.  I am vice Chairman and Treasurer).  The project work we undertake and the funding we receive for these projects are subject to match funding and to achieve this we rely heavily on voluntary labour which is mainly from angling clubs and riparian owners.  It remains to be seen what happens if these draconian measures are implemented but the general feeling of stakeholders is, they will not in the future carry out work which they consider NRW should be doing.
  • In cross examination of Mr Nicholson, he was asked by Mr Wald where the reference to Mr Russell (CEFAS) stated that he had taken the evidence on ‘face value’.  This can be found in NRW/4b Appendix 1 Page 1 last paragraph which says “However, these documents largely contained tables and figures (N.B. I have taken the raw data provided in these documents at face value), so the few comments I have on these documents have also been listed below”.  It was therefore clear that Mr Russell had not challenged the accuracy of the data he was provided.
  • In the oral presentation from the netsmen they supported the fact that the decline in fish stocks has been due to poaching, pollution and predation with in their opinion the greatest effect being due to pollution.  There was also reference to effect of the Irish high seas netting as identified in the graph from Dr Nigel Milner and that they were now seeing more MSW fish.
  • There is an opportunity to work co-operatively with NRW as we have extremely good relations with our local NRW fisheries officers.  Mr Eardley has covered how this would work in his closing statement which I fully support.
  • It only remains for me to thank the inspector for the patience shown due our lack of understanding in how an inquiry of this type is run.

Chris White

Conservation Officer: Campaign for the protection of Welsh fisheries

6 March 2018


[1] Ref WW/1

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

Visit our website at www.cpwf.co.uk

[2] Ref CPWF/2 (pages 29 & 30)

[3] Ref CPWF/2 (page 18)

[4] Ref NRW/2R/C

[5] CPWF/2 Pages 50 to 56

[6] Ref NRW/2R/C

[7] NRW/2 page 13 Para 3.21 & 3.22

[8] CPWF/2 Page 13

[9] Ref NRW/1 9.13, 9.14, 9.24, 9.25, 9.26

[10] CPWF/2 page 25

[11] NRW/8C

[12] CPWF/INQ/5

[13] NRW/4 Page 11 P 5.8

[14] NRW/4b Appendix1 Par 7

[15] NRW/5 Par 2.3

[16] CPWF/2 Enforcement Page 38

[17] NRW/6

[18] Ref NRW/1 9.13, 9.14, 9.24, 9.25, 9.26

[19] AAC/2

[20] App/4 Technical case P18 Para 4

[21] TR/INQ/1

[22] APP/4.7

[23] NRW/5 

[24] APP/4.8 Annex 8 Par 1.2

[25] NRW/1R Fig 5 Page 13

[26] APP/4 Page 77 Para 5.6

[27] AR/1

[28] CPWF/2 Page 6

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