Clarification by email 16th September 2010

Thank you very much for your two messages. They raise nicely a concern that I know troubles many anglers who are concerned about stocks, but see the value in understanding more about how sea trout populations work so that they can be protected better in the future.  It is a dilemma.

I take a pragmatic line on this, recognising that we are dealing with volunteers and very grateful for the angler support.  We wouldn’t want anyone to kill fish that they don’t want to and I do agree that trying to take scales off fish under difficult conditions of for example an awkward bank and warm water will increase their risk of dying.  I agree that actually killing the fish may be the best option under those or similar circumstances, or if the angler is not confident about taking scales from live fish anyway.  I kill sea trout – the very few that I catch (!) on the basis of the arguments below.

As you have clearly pointed out, the numbers of fish killed is in most cases small in relation to the runs and is not in reality a risk to stocks, providing it is short term (e.g. the lifetime of the project).  The sacrifice is worth it to gain the knowledge; but that needs to be conveyed more effectively to anglers, some of whom think it is just a bunch of mad boffins indulging themselves.   I can assure you that is not the case for the CSTP.  Many of the scientists are anglers and are only too aware of the conservation issues.

The alternative is to consider what might happen in the future if we don’t try to do what the CSTP is attempting.  We may get declines in sea trout (as we have seen in salmon) and then a situation arises where, because stocks are seriously depleted,  killing fish would actually pose a  genuine severe risk.  We would then be left with little knowledge, few fish and no room for manoeuvre – not a happy situation.  At the moment we are in an interim stage with reasonably stable stocks in most cases (this year has actually been quite productive); so now is really the time to do this, not when we are up against problems in the future.

Anyway, that’s  how I rationalise it.  I’d be happy to convey this through your site and or the sea trout forum (I’ve registered on this and plan to comment on it).

Regards

Nigel

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