John Eardley persists: Thanks John

President

Allan Cuthbert Email: 1highplains@gmail.coo.uk

Strategy Officer

John Eardley

c/o Vanner Farm & Caravan Site Llanelltyd

Dolgellau Gwynedd LL40 2HE

Email: johneardley@btinternet.com

Conservation Officer

Chris White Email:chriswhite.cohite@gmail.com

9th December 2019

Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM National Assembly for Wales Cardiff Bay

Cardiff CF99 1NA

By email to: Dafydd.Elis-Thomas@assembly.wales

Copies to:

Charlie Abbott – Riparian Owner, Garreg Arw, Afon Mawddach

Hywel Bromley Davenport – Riparian Owner,

Bryncemlyn & Gelligemlyn, Afon Mawddach

Meirion Hughes – Riparian Owner, Felin Newydd, Afon Wnion

Gavin Jones – Secretary, Dolgellau Angling Association

Andy Strickland – Secretary, Prince Albert Angling Society

Dear Dafydd,

I was proud to represent the majority of the angling interests on the Afon Mawddach & Afon Wnion at the All Wales Fishing Byelaws Inquiry held in January and March of this year and am writing to you on behalf of those same angling stakeholders today.

Key evidence presented by the Objectors at the Inquiry was ignored by the Inspector and this led to his report finding in favour of Natural Resources Wales and as a result the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs made a decision to confirm the Byelaws which are due to come into force on 1st January 2020.

Last week I attended a joint meeting of the Dee & Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Groups at Yr Hwb, Bala at which Clare Pillman, CEO of Natural Resources Wales, was also present.

The meeting brought into sharp focus the reality of the situation that we are now facing. The enforcement officer responsible for North West Wales reported that the current situation is a disaster with most of his team gone. Goodwill has been lost and experienced staff who have left have taken their expert knowledge with them. He stated that he had never known anything like this with 45% of the reported incidents in Wales since July being from North West Wales and only 2 staff available to cover the whole area. He made a desperate plea to those present for help. Unfortunately attendance at these meetings has been dwindling for some time with many representatives feeling disenfranchised when their legitimate concerns

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are dismissed by senior fisheries staff. As a result there was nobody present from nearby rivers including the Dyfi, Dwyfawr and Glaslyn to hear his plea whilst many of those who were present have become so disaffected that they will not go out of their way to help.

The chair of the Dee Fisheries Association reported that poachers are netting the Dee estuary with impunity now that NRW are unable to carry out boat patrols. We have the utmost respect for NRW’s hardworking Enforcement Officers but they simply cannot cope in the current climate.

Given that NRW’s figures demonstrate that a maximum of 2 salmon in every hundred in Wales (10 out of 500 in the case of the Mawddach & Wnion) is the somewhat paltry number that will be saved by the All Wales Byelaws we are now facing a disaster since fewer anglers means less of a deterrent, less intelligence for enforcement officers, increased poaching and the loss of considerably more spawning salmon than is currently the case. In short the Byelaws are counterproductive. Today NRW are in receipt of documents which pose a serious challenge to the salmon stock assessments used to inform the All Wales, Cross Border Dee & Wye and Severn Emergency Byelaws and which indicate that stocks are being considerably underestimated by the current methodology.

It was also reported at the meeting that the Wales Fisheries Forum and its associated Plan of Action for salmon and sea trout will do nothing to restore our stocks of migratory fish. Those of us who are in opposition to the byelaws are working as conservationists looking to protect our fisheries, and assist in restoring the stocks of salmon and sea trout in our rivers.

NRW has previously informed us that those anglers who release all of the fish they catch “will note little difference under the new regime”. This is not true. A significant number of anglers, local and visiting alike, no longer fish when Mandatory Catch & Release is introduced and as a result clubs lose both members and revenue. As a result they can no longer afford to rent some of their waters and those who wish to continue fishing “under the new regime” are denied access. The very future of smaller community based angling clubs, together with the angling tourism that they support, is very much under threat.

We are at crisis point and failure to take a step back and assess fully the current situation will see Welsh Government preside over an unmitigated disaster for our stocks of migratory fish and the fisheries which they support. We seek your support in achieving that aim.

Should you require further supportive evidence, or wish to discuss the matter further, please do not hesitate to get in touch by either email or telephone.

Yours sincerely

John Eardley

Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Group Representative, Prince Albert Angling Society Strategy Officer, Campaign for the Protection of Welsh Fisheries

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