S&TA discusses Fish Stocking controversy with Heads of EA Fisheries

S&TA discussed with top Environment Agency (EA) staff the Association’s
serious concerns that the EA’s implementation of the Trout & Grayling Strategy

Paul Knight, Director of S&TA, met with Dr Dafydd Evans, Head of the Environment Agency’s Fisheries
Department and Dr Guy Mawle, EA Fisheries Strategist) on the banks of the River Test.

The problem is that the EA has given whole river systems the “Native” trout waters designation without
local consultation. According to the EA Trout & Grayling Strategy, that classification could restrict
stocking, even in areas that had been stocked previously. In the consultation for this Strategy, S&TA
raised concerns that limiting stocking would reduce the number of fish available, and thus reduce the
fishing opportunities available to people. We would be back to the days when river fishing was accessible
to only the wealthy elite with the right connections.

However, at this meeting, a resolution on the stocking issue was reached. Dafydd Evans and Guy Mawle
explained they don’t intent to impose ‘no stocking’ regulations over ‘Native’ fisheries. Additionally,
they will continue to allow stocking in all areas not in Wild Fisheries Protection Zones.
The Wild Fisheries Protection Zones would be designated after close consultation with local
fisheries interests.

The S&TA is happy to hear this, as the T&G Strategy’s aims to maximise socio economic
benefits from trout fishing something the S&TA wholeheartedly supports. It would thus be
inconsistent to have a cutback in stocking consents.

An additional concern the S&TA had is that the EA would only allow triploid stocking.
‘Triploids’ are a specially breed infertile fish, and there are concerns they are ill-suited
to survive in rain-fed river systems. Additionally, if fishery managers wanted to buy triploids,
they wouldn’t be able to as fish farmers need a three year lead in to grow these fish.
Fortunately, while the EA wants to move in that direction they are undertaking research
on the topic and will wait to make a long-term decision until 2006.

Also, the S&TA wishes the EA to work with organisations and universities outside the
Agency that are conducting research (with funding support from the S&TA Trust among others)
to research the impact of stocked fish on wild fish. An agreement was reached with the EA
that this research should be co-ordinated and monitored over the next two years so that maximum
acceptable (to EA) data was available in 2006 to make scientifically informed decisions over the
delivery of the T&G Strategy with regards to triploid stocking and stocking.

The EA’s aim is to help self-sustaining populations of trout to prosper, but to find the best
way to use supportive stocking so that process is encouraged whilst still maximising benefits
from trout angling.

S&TA is happier now about the Strategy’s delivery, now that continued access to most trout
fishing is assured, and that science and local consultation will play a major role in future trout management.

Many Thanks to Jim Glasspool of the Test & Itchen Association and NAFAC, who played a key role in the meeting.

To read more on the Trout & Grayling Strategy go
Here, and read the Strategy available on the
Environment Agency Website