North East Buy-out – update

Negotiations continue with the remaining 70 netsmen to find an agreement whereby their licenses are surrendered in exchange for fair compensation,

Negotiations continue with the remaining 70 netsmen to find an agreement whereby their licenses are surrendered in exchange for fair compensation, based on the average number of fish caught by each fisherman, their age and the effort they expend on the fishery. The Government have committed £750,000 to this initiative on an equal funding basis with the private fishery sector, represented by the North Atlantic Salmon Fund UK (NASF UK).

Negotiations are delicately balanced at present, with some 28 netsmen willing to sell at the compensation rates currently on offer. However, the nature of the fishery requires a higher number of licenses to be surrendered if a significant drop in catch is to be attained, and private funds will not be released until more netsmen agree to a deal.

A meeting took place in April between representatives of DEFRA and EA, and the wild salmon interests – S&TA, NASF (UK), AST, DSFBs and the River Tweed. The meeting updated all parties on the current status of the buy-out and Net Limitation Order issues, and some plans were laid about how best to proceed with negotiations. In particular, NASF (UK) has arranged a number of meetings with groups of local netsmen so that views can be exchanged first hand with those directly involved. These meetings are ongoing and are proving an interesting exercise, confirming that, at the right price, a significant proportion of fishermen are still willing to surrender their licenses.

If we are to succeed in closing this fishery, or even making a substantial acceleration towards that position, more private funds will be required to meet the demands of the netsmen. DEFRA have made it clear that no more Government funding will be made available, but some determined commitment is still required, by ALL parties involved, to successfully conclude this issue.