Chris White continues the challenge!

CAMPAIGN FOR THE PROTECTION OF WELSH FISHERIES

10 April 2018

 

Re: NRW fisheries bylaw proposals – request for an Inquiry

Dear Minister,

We note in your recent correspondence that you say you will be following the requirements of the Water Resources Act 1991.  We draw your attention to Schedules 2 and 26 of this Act and formally request an inquiry as the objections from the majority of the respondents to the consultation have not been withdrawn.

To date our correspondence with your office has been put on hold with no indicative time scale for you to make your decision.  In Schedule 2 of the Act it clearly states that you can only confirm or reject the proposals once all of the objections have been dealt with.  To this end all that has been received from your agency (NRW) is a request that objectors withdraw their objections based upon their technical case which is flawed.  NRW have simply dismissed our objections claiming that we have not presented any evidence; In March CPWF together with the North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Committee (NWATFCC) jointly commissioned an Independent Evaluation of the rivers Classification methodology which has been used to justify the proposals (see attached report).

The findings and conclusions of this Evaluation by Consultant Statisticians are of such concern that we have requested that the Angling Trust write to NRW, EA, Cefas and NASCO requesting that the proposed 2018 measures are suspended based upon the contents of the evaluation.  In our correspondence with your office we have provided draft proposals on alternate and interim measures which will achieve better results than the proposed bylaws.  It was clear from the outset that there has been pre-determination by NRW in the outcome of the consultation; a similar situation exists in England.

Nothing in the NRW proposals will reverse the decline in salmon stocks in the short or medium or even long term as the proposals do not address the root cause of the decline, they simply disadvantage the stakeholders.   The evidence from 20 years of compulsory catch and release for spring salmon demonstrates the futility of the recommendations in achieving the desired outcome.

We would refer you to the comments made by Cefas on this issue who advised you that the proposals will have little impact but may be worth doing as there may be some improvement in the long term i.e. it is accepted by NRW that these proposals will do little or nothing to reverse the decline.

We would draw your attention that in August 2017 a public notice was placed in the London Gazette by the Welsh Government under its seal based upon the original bylaw proposals which have been subsequently amended.  We have taken legal advice concerning the publishing and formal notification in the London Gazette asking for objections whilst at the same time running a consultation i.e. were we objecting to bylaws which you had already approved or were we consulting on other options.  I would refer you to Schedule 26 and the requirement for formal notification following a consultation for a period of 28 days for objections to be lodged, this has not been complied with, there has been no opportunity to object to the amended proposals and you are not therefore in a position to approve the proposals.

The present fisheries bylaws are river specific and are to be replaced with a bylaw which covers all rivers i.e. a national Welsh fisheries regulation and not a bylaw.  I would again refer you to Schedule 26 and the need to revoke the existing bylaws before the new bylaws are enacted, I am not aware of any notice of revocation.

It is our preference to hold meaningful discussions on how salmon stocks can be conserved after all as stakeholders we know our own rivers best and are their guardians, it is not in our best interest to destroy our fish stocks as implied in the proposed NRW bylaws.

The draft interim proposals and pausing of the proposed Consultation Bylaw measures gives all parties the opportunity to engage and frame a constructive partnership approach that will conserve and benefit fish stocks, fisheries and communities for the long term.

 

Regards

Chris White

Conservation Officer: Campaign for the protection of Welsh fisheries

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