Re: John Eardley's meeting with Ceri Davies & Ruth Jenkins. Nice one John

CAMPAIGN FOR THE PROTECTION OF WELSH FISHERIES

Notes John Eardley’s meeting  with Ruth Jenkins (Head of NRM Policy) & Ceri Davies (Executive Director of Evidence, Policy & Permitting) *via Skype

NRW Offices, Dolgellau

12.00 – 13.45 Friday 28.9.18

 

This meeting was instigated by Clare Pillman (NRW Chief Executive) in her response to points that I had raised in my last letter. A number of points were raised/discussed:

  • Ruth will also chair the new Wales Fisheries Forum.
  • Ceri stated that they were disappointed that the bylaws were not approved by WG and the Inquiry is something that they did not want. I pointed out at some length that if the planning inspectorate also choose to reject the bylaws there should be no disappointment as a voluntary solution would lead to similar, if not better, outcomes without causing unnecessary damage to angling and the rural tourism which it supports. I highlighted the damage that clubs had suffered already in 2018 and drew their attention to the situation on the Border Esk as well as the 4 visiting anglers in the Dolgellau area who immediately took their caravans to the Severn & NE England when we were initially told that the Bylaws would come into effect before 16th June 2017.
  • I also explained the point that angling, compared with netting & poaching, is an extremely inefficient way of removing fish from the river and that realistically, particularly with the reduced angling effort that we are witnessing, there would always be more than enough fish remaining to sustain stocks. Furthermore large numbers of salmon are not necessary to provide sufficient offspring – however good habitat and ensuring their survival by managing predation are crucial.
  • They asked how NRW could help protect angling clubs from the impact of the proposed bylaws. I pointed out that promoting trout and grayling fishing in the rivers of North & West Wales was of little use since there are no grayling and the majority of the brown trout migrate to the sea. I did suggest that promoting angling to a young audience is something that does need to happen as I currently regard someone on the riverbank who are in their 40’s as a youngster! I also pointed out that fish play second fiddle to fluffy animals in many ways – it matters not to the average tourist in Coed-y-Brenin whether there are any fish in the rivers or not. Anglers do have a vested interest however. I highlighted the excellent CCGRT Classroom project and suggested that promoting this type of activity would be beneficial in getting better understanding of our watercourses by the general public.
  • Regarding the Wales Fisheries Forum I pointed out the widely recognised issue of lack of engagement with stakeholders and that the make-up of the group was not representative of those stakeholders (particularly the AST, IFM & WTT although they may have valid contributions to make on occasions). I suggested that if each LFG had a representative on the Forum there is a mechanism for the 2 way flow of information from individuals, through clubs to the LFG and on to NRW and vice versa. Furthermore there needs to be ownership of the agenda and a genuine feeling that concerns are being addressed. Talking “at people” is of no use and without a change in direction the issue of lack of engagement will not go away. I was asked if I thought LFG’s would be receptive to the idea and replied that those who didn’t wish to engage would have little cause to criticise any lack of future engagement. However NRW had to be aware that the bylaw process has caused a great deal of animosity and some clubs have already withdrawn from involvement. Bridges have to be built!!!!

The upshot of this is that Ruth says she will write to each of the LFG’s to seek their involvement and this will be discussed at the first meeting on 31st October. They pointed out that it was too late to get LFGs involved by this date and wondered how this could be resolved. I suggested that being honest and upfront might be the preferable approach and that there would then be plenty of time to discuss this at the next round of meetings in December before taking it forward (if that is what LFGs want) in 2019.

  • I had raised the point that I hoped that this meeting was not a tick box exercise to demonstrate how well they are engaging with stakeholders and have to say that I felt that there was a general desire to improve relationships. However I have pointed out that in the event of the bylaws being approved, there is a likelihood that many anglers will withdraw from being involved with NRW. I also had to point out that it was a pity that this meeting had not taken place some 3½ years ago in which case we would have been well on the way to a better solution by now.

 

John

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