NE salmon net closure
S&TC welcomes the new Environment Agency byelaws which will close down the killing of Atlantic salmon in drift nets and coastal T&J nets on the north east coast of England, which follows lobbying from several fisheries NGOs over many years.
S&TC believe this is the correct decision in the interests of protecting and conserving salmon stocks and brings England into line with international salmon management obligations.
S&TC was closely involved in the closure of the Scottish coastal nets in 2016, via complaint to Europe under the EU Habitats Directive that Scotland was not managing its wild salmon stocks responsibly. The Scottish action left England in some embarrassment, in that these north east English nets exploited salmon bound for Scottish rivers anywhere between 30% (Yorkshire coast) and 70% (drift nets).
S&TC has also been heavily involved internationally as Co-Chair of the NGOs at the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO), pressurising all countries still allowing exploitation of salmon stocks from more than one river system (Mixed Stock Fisheries) to close them down on management and conservation grounds.
Paul Knight, S&TC CEO, said,
“We are delighted with this decision to close the north east mixed stock fisheries for salmon, and congratulate the EA for taking this decisive action, which will allow thousands of wild salmon to run their natal rivers without fear of exploitation so that they can spawn future generations.However, we must not forget that netsmen are having to give up some or all of their livelihoods under these new byelaws, which is never a welcome outcome, and so it is up to all anglers to show the highest possible restraint when salmon fishing so that they too play their part in conserving wild stocks.”
“We are concerned that sea trout will still be exploited in some of the north east coastal nets and we will be seeking more evidence in the near future as to the true status of English sea trout stocks.With the fisheries management doubts over climate change and the evidence emerging of salmon and sea trout smolts being smaller because of it, and therefore having less chance of survival at sea, we need to take a precautionary approach now on all migratory salmon stocks, not wait until things get worse.”
The NE salmon net closure byelaws
The new byelaws will come into force on 1 January 2019, an important step in tackling the international decline in migratory salmon stocks. Salmon numbers are currently among the lowest on record and are below sustainable levels in many rivers.
S&TC welcome the new laws, which include:
- Closing all commercial net fisheries for ‘At Risk’ and ‘Probably At Risk’ rivers (some fishing for sea trout will still be allowed). This will include all drift net fisheries;
- Mandatory catch and release by anglers on the rivers that are classed as ‘At Risk’ to be introduced in June 2019. These are the Cumbrian Calder, Dorset Stour and Yealm;
- Mandatory catch and release by anglers on the rivers that are listed as ‘Recovering Rivers’. These are rivers where salmon were effectively wiped out and small populations have re-established in recent years with improvements in water quality on mostly heavily polluted post-industrial catchments. Examples of these are the Mersey, Yorkshire Ouse;
- Renewal of the 1998 Spring Salmon Byelaws. These protect the larger, early running salmon, and do not involve any new measures.