S&TA Raises Deep Concern On Funding Cuts With Minister

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) is concerned and angry at the Grant-in-Aid
cut of £400,000

Association slates decision that jeopardises revived salmon runs

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) is concerned and angry at the Grant-in-Aid cut of £400,000 to the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Department, recently announced, and has raised this with Ben Bradshaw, the Environment Minister, as a matter of urgency.

“The EA Fisheries Department funding cuts are twice that of other departments within the EA this year,” Paul Knight, S&TA Executive Director, declares, “and come on top of swingeing cuts made in previous years. There is a deepening suspicion amongst fisheries and angling interests that Fisheries within the EA is receiving minimum priority, despite the fact that the aquatic environment and its dependent species supports an angling economy worth in excess of £3b per annum, supporting 20,000 jobs and is of particular importance to rural, often remote, communities.”

He points out that, as a result of these cuts, the EA’s Fishery Department will have to reduce its salmon management projects by 50% in 2006/7. Enforcement, in particular, will suffer directly with the number of river bailiffs being even further reduced than at present. It is particularly ironic, he says, just when British salmon rivers are showing signs of revival, and that pressure on the Irish government to curtail drift net fishing is beginning to take effect, boosting runs of salmon within some Welsh, English and Scottish rivers by up to 14%, that funding cuts will now jeopardise projects aimed at protecting and nurturing these runs. What is bad news for salmon is also bad news for sea trout, which has taken over from salmon as the dominant migratory species in several English and Welsh rivers.

“Unless extra resources are forthcoming, the EA will inevitably fail in its efforts to meet its responsibilities as a member of the European Union delegation to NASCO, and will be found wanting when its Salmon Management Implementation Plan is examined by the NASCO Review Group in future years,” he concludes. “The S&TA urges the Minister to make sufficient resources available to the EA Fisheries Department to enable them to deliver the Implementation Plan announced on behalf of England and Wales at the recent NASCO meeting in Finland.”

Additionally, Atlantic salmon is a protected listed species in the 1992 EC Habitats Directive. As such, the Government has another legal obligation to ensure threatened Atlantic salmon populations and their habitats are robustly protected and the populations recover to the numbers necessary for conservation.