Wye Salmon Association to NRW

Penyhil Felindre Brecon Powys

LD3 0SU

25 February 2020

To:

Julian Bray, Head of Inland Fisheries, WAG

Dear Sir,

Wye Salmon Association wish again to register with the Welsh Assembly Government their concern over the significant lack of NRW Fisheries resources.

We have on a number of occasions recently, written to the WAG Environment Minister and NRW CEO & Chair highlighting the plight of Atlantic Salmon in the River Wye. Registering our belief a state of emergency exists with respect to Salmon stocks in the Wye.

We have expressed major misgivings over the current salmon action plans under consideration by WAG/NRW, believing they offer little more than a continuation of existing actions. Actions that have delivered very little in the way of salmon stock recovery over the last 20+ years. Lacking in inspiration, we consider their content short of the mark and a lost opportunity.

As a result, today, we are faced with the potential extinction of Wye salmon, on your watch.

We are certain a lack of resource and funding within NRW is constraining their ability and willingness to fulfil their statutory fisheries duties and develop robust salmon stock recovery plans . Too much reliance on self-regulation, as NRW do not have sufficient resource to enforce in such areas as agricultural and sewage pollution and we suspect even the revised angling byelaws.

In our communication we requested the Minister sought from the NRW an answer to the questions ‘will this plan deliver the required stock Conservation Targets [CL], as are implicit in NASCO Guidelines for Management of Salmon Fisheries, CNL(09)43, and by when. If less than an unequivocal YES, what is required that might?

Whilst receiving a cursory response from The Minister, it did not address the obvious seriousness of this question. We received no response from the CEO and or Chair of NRW to whom this correspondence was also addressed.

The outsourcing of river restoration work, by NRW, a policy supported by WAG it would appear, to Rivers Trusts, in order to compensate for the lack of in-house resource and funding has resulted in the skewing of actions towards task based actions, rather than the ‘bold and

Wye Salmon Association Cymdeithas Eog Gwy. Penyhil, Felindre, Brecon, Powys LD3 0SU

Tel: 07789133263. Email: enquiries@wyesalmon.com Website www.wyesalmon.com

urgent’, target based initiatives needed. Prevarication and dogma, we suspect, disguised as research, reviewing, consulting etc, wasteful of resource and lacking innovative thinking. Words to raise funding rather than actions to deliver real world solutions.

Evidence; in the 23 years since 1996 of ‘Salmon Action Plans’, the 5 year annual average rod catch has declined from 1852 in the period to 1996 to currently 941 and in the last 15 years the Conservation Target [CL] for egg deposition has only been achieved once! This despite the millions spent on habitat improvement on the Wye.

River trusts, whilst charities and non-profit making, operate by necessity as businesses with an overriding need to fund their payroll and overhead costs as a first consideration. They follow the money sources, and whilst there is much to be commended in many actions and initiatives, often, as a result they lose focus on the end result. The focus that a properly resourced NRW supported by its stakeholder driven Local Fishery Groups [LFGs] could provide.

Engagement of the whole angling community on the river Wye has been compromised by a ‘lack of trust’ in NRW and the organisations charged with recovery, with accusations of not ‘communicating or listening’ and ‘not acting on critical matters’.

The now very visible lack of NRW resources, combined with the failure to achieve a sustained turn round in the fortunes of Wye salmon stocks, and a new salmon action plan considered to be not fit for purpose, will further weaken engagement by stakeholders in river programmes and massively reduce the opportunity to increase support and funding for future river improvements.

A missed opportunity perhaps as WSA believes there is significant funding available from the angling community for a plan aligned with actions they believe likely to deliver recovery of Wye salmon fisheries.

Yours sincerely

Stuart Smith Chairman

Wye Salmon Association

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