North East Nets – buy-out update

At long last, a deal is on the table to buy-out a significant number of netsmen.

At long last, a deal is on the table to buy-out a significant number of netsmen. Thanks to some further lobbying behind the scenes, and renewed negotiating between NASF(UK) and the fishermen, we could soon close the deal to save some 80% of the salmon and sea trout traditionally caught in this fishery. Thanks to the zero Net Limitation Order in place, licenses cannot be handed on, so the fishery will close for good, once the last fishermen retires from the industry.

Significant numbers of these fish are destined for Scottish East coast rivers, so the issue is international in its influence, especially when one looks at the wider implications. If the NE nets are cut right back, the Irish Republic will then find itself the only country left which licenses significant drift netting for salmon, and all our efforts, both Government and private, can be exerted in procuring a successful buy-out of the Irish fishery.

Successful negotiations over the NE nets will save 40-45,000 salmon and sea trout annually (taking into account an increased catch by the remaining 17 licences of up to 15%), but closure of the Irish nets would allow some 300,000 salmon every year to run Irish, English, Welsh and European rivers, some to be caught by anglers but the majority to reach the spawning redds, and so guarantee the future of Atlantic salmon in these countries.

The deal is simple:

52 nets will cost £3.3m. £2.3m has already been raised through the generosity of the Government and previous donations. A further £1m is needed to complete the deal.

Remaining licenses will gradually be surrendered as netsmen leave the industry until, when the last fisherman retires, the fishery will close completely.

However, the immediate knock-on effect will be to show the other governments what can be achieved for salmon management if netsmen are properly compensated for surrendering their licenses in the interests of conservation and the international community. Many fish which could be saved are destined for Southern English and Welsh rivers, some of which are close to collapse in terms of a sustainable salmon run.