Trout and Grayling strategy
What is the issue?
The welfare of wild trout, and the wellbeing of the rivers which support them, is fundamental to the Salmon & trout Association (S&TCUK)'s work, which is why we are monitoring the Environment Agency (EA)'s Trout & Grayling Strategy (T&GS) closely and critically.
S&TCUK supports the stocking of triploids as a precautionary approach to protection, although we do call for more research (see below) on their potential impact. However, S&TCUK feels strongly that the major problem facing brown trout is habitat degradation, especially the inability to fully utilise suitable juvenile habitat. Causes include excessive water abstraction, diffuse pollution/siltation, ill-sited hydropower schemes, insensitive canalisation and barriers to fish passage.
What S&TCUK has achieved so far
- S&TCUK lobbied for brown trout to be better protected legally. Some success was gained in 2010 when brown trout were made a Biodiversity Action Plan species
- We advised on the Environment Agency's Trout & Grayling Strategy, and continue to monitor its delivery, especially on habitat restoration
- S&TCUK championed the practice of catch and release as a voluntary conservation tool at a time when it was not a popular issue. Many fisheries now require all wild trout to be returned to the water unharmed and this, along with habitat restoration, is seen as the single most effective protective tool
- However, some anglers still want to retain fish to eat, and S&TCUK has always called for supportive supportive stocking of relevant fisheries, albeit with triploid (sterile) fish as a precaution against possible genetic introgression
What still needs to be done?
- Brown trout require suitable habitat for all stages of their life cycle. S&TCUK's main work in England and Wales is to use its lobbying expertise to influence Government policies which restore and protect degraded habitat, and to highlight and demand action over issues which impact the aquatic environment - using European environmental legislation as our key driver
- S&TCUK is putting particular emphasis on including all the major environmental issues in the forthcoming Water White Paper
- S&TCUK is calling for proper research to decide whether triploid stock trout will perform effectively in fisheries requiring supportive stocking - do they rise to the fly, will they adversely impact wild fish stocks, and are they strong enough to withstand spate conditions in a rain fed system?