John Eardley 9th February 2021

Chris Bainger – Fisheries Technical Specialist – West Midlands

By email to chris.bainger@environment-agency.gov.uk

Copies to:

Jamie Cook – CEO Angling Trust

Mark Owen – Head of Freshwater Angling Trust

Dear Mr Bainger,

I have recently been informed by colleagues that a consultation into proposed new byelaws for the River Severn is imminent, although as angling stakeholders in Wales we have yet to receive any formal notification. Could you please confirm that this is indeed the case and if so when will we be formally notified of what is contained within the proposals? Can I also request that in the interests of a level playing field we are given notice well in advance of the consultation start date and not simply notified at the time of its start date as that would immediately set us on the back foot and could be perceived as giving the impression of bias.

Angling stakeholders have justifiable concerns that although the EA will have the lead on this cross-border consultation, there will be considerable pressure from NRW to implement byelaws that are closely aligned with what is already in place in the rest of Wales. The timing of the Severn Emergency Byelaw, a mere 2 days in advance of when it would have still been legal for an angler to take a salmon on a Welsh river, together with significant corrections to underestimated 2015-18 stock estimates, does nothing to allay our concerns.

Whilst I have no wish to prejudge the Severn Consultation, I have been heavily involved in 2 consultations involving NRW, firstly the closure of hatcheries and ending of third party stocking and latterly the All Wales Byelaws, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone in Wales who would regard either of these as anything other than “tick box exercises”, i.e. consultations in name only. The Oxford Dictionary defines a consultation as “the act of discussing something with someone or with a group of people before making a decision about it”. What reassurance can you provide to angling stakeholders, many of whom have led the conservation agenda within their own organisations, that their input will be valued and form part of proposals that are fit for purpose in securing the future of the River Severn salmon?

There is an opportunity here to, at the very least, trial a voluntary solution, in accordance with NASCO policy, which would have the backing of both the Angling Trust and angling organisations along the river and which would avoid the disastrous situation which now exists in Wales. Anyone who has the best interests of the River Severn at heart will recognise that we all need to work together and that cannot be achieved if a confrontational approach is pursued. Sadly experiences in Wales highlights that failure to do that will be disastrous, not only for future relationships between angling stakeholders and the EA, but most importantly for the future of the Severn Salmon.

Yours sincerely

John Eardley – Strategy Officer, Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries

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