Minister's response 12th August

Lesley Griffiths AC/AM
Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs

Ein cyf/Our ref LG/06583/19

Llywodraeth Cymru Welsh Government

Chris White
12th August 2019

Thank you for your letters of 26 July to myself and the First Minister, regarding my decision to approve Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) ‘All Wales’ Byelaw proposals for salmon and sea trout. I am responding to you on both letters, as this subject area falls under my portfolio as Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs.

I understand some anglers will be disappointed with my decision, but please be assured it was not taken lightly. We all agree there has been an ongoing decline in salmon and sea trout, as you state in your letter, and this has again been confirmed in the recently published stock assessments which unfortunately show stock levels for both species are still a concern. To avoid stocks falling to unsafe levels which may lead to stock collapse, we must take action now.

I recognise, as does the inspector in his report, anglers are not primarily responsible for the decline of salmon and sea trout, but are a contributing factor. As such, my statement on 16 July clearly stated we must also tackle the other contributing factors. I have tasked NRW to lead on a Salmon and Sea Trout Plan of Action, taking forward a significant amount of work to reverse the decline of salmon and sea trout. NRW will work with partners to tackle a// the issues impacting stocks including those highlighted by anglers at the inquiry such as obstructions to migration, water abstraction, fish eating birds and the need for robust enforcement.

The Welsh Government, of course, has a contribution to make to this plan. For example, I will be bringing in new regulations on agricultural pollution in January 2020 to reduce the risks posed to fish stocks and wildlife. I will also consider other proposals as and when they are presented to me within the Plan of Action, and I note in your letter the call for responsible promotion and regulation of paddle sports to avoid the disturbance of spawning fish.

Bae Caerdydd • Cardiff Bay
Caerdydd • Cardiff
CF99 1NA

Canolfan Cyswllt Cyntaf / Fir st Point of Contact Centre :
0300 0604400
Gohebiaeth.Le sl ey.Griff iths@ ll y Corr esp ondence.Lesl ey.Griff i ths

Rydym yn croesawu derbyn gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg . Byddwn yn ateb gohebiaeth a dderbynnir yn Gymraeg yn Gymraeg ac ni fydd gohebu yn Gymraeg yn arwain at oedi.

We welcome receiving corresp ondence in Welsh . Any correspondence received in Welsh will be answered in Welsh and corresp ondin g in Welsh will not lead to a delay in resp onding.

If the plan is to succeed, and we are to reverse the decline in salmon and sea trout, everyone with an interest will need to engage and contribute. To achieve our shared goal it will require the combined efforts of all those who care about these magnificent fish to work constructively together and put prior differences aside. I sincerely believe anglers, such as yourself, and supporters of angling have a crucial role to play and I hope you will engage with NRW to develop and help deliver this plan.

I am hugely encouraged by the fact the majority of anglers (86%) already voluntarily return the salmon they catch and this number is increasing. This demonstrates the care and respect anglers show for salmon and their wish to protect them for the future. I see this as a clear sign local angling clubs will continue to thrive and adapt if this approach is passed on to new members.

It is clear to see the depth of feeling and passion on both sides of this debate, and this is reflected in your letter. I believe I have responded to your concerns around my decision and reasoning behind the appointment of the Planning Inspectorate to the Local Inquiry process in our previous correspondence (ref: LG/05045/19). I also confirmed I was content with the regulations put in place for the Inquiry and am satisfied the assigned Inspector was impartial and ensured an open and fair process. If you are still dissatisfied with any aspect of the inquiry process, or my decision, you are entitled to seek a Judicial Review.

Lesley Griffiths AC/AM
Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs

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