Cormorants – Booklet Launched

The Moran Committee Joint Bird Group has recently launched a booklet “Protecting your fishery from Cormorants”.

The Moran Committee Joint Bird Group has recently launched a booklet “Protecting your fishery from Cormorants”. The advisory publication aims to complement information that is available already by giving fishery managers practical advice on options for protecting their stock from cormorants.

Where possible, the management techniques described have been reinforced by specific case studies, together with diagrams or pictures and contact addresses/websites for further information. The guidance also provides a simple step-by-step guide on how to apply for a Defra licence to shoot birds at a site as an aid to scaring and if other means fail.

A website – www.cormorants.info – will shortly be set up to provide further updates and additions to the information contained within the booklet.

WATERBRITE

The Environment Agency’s re-organisation, under the title WATERBRITE, came into operation on October 1st.

The Environment Agency’s re-organisation, under the title WATERBRITE, came into operation on October 1st. From a fisheries perspective, the jury is still out as to whether the changes will make for a more efficient service, or, indeed, if fisheries will survive as a recognisable department at local level.

Agency’s Head Office fisheries staff has been strengthened, under the continued leadership of David Clarke. Guy Mawle has moved to the new post of Fisheries Strategist, and there are four more senior staff, plus assistants, to oversee two RFERACs each as well as other national responsibilities. At Regional level, just one dedicated fisheries position remains, as the new structure concentrates on “integrated management” of the Agency’s various responsibilities, with the exception of flood defence, which remains stand-alone.

Integrated management is a sensible approach to operating the Agency, and should benefit fisheries in the future, provided that the department is not absorbed so deeply into other activities that its own structure is completely lost. It is at Area level that the real worries over service delivery raise their head, and where, ultimately, the success of WATERBRITE will be judged. If the Agency cannot deliver a fisheries service at the bankside, then all the integrated management in the world will not save them from the wrath of owners, managers and anglers.

The Agency Area structure includes three six-person teams, each under an Area Environmental Manager who, in turn, all answer to the Area Manager. One of these teams will have a fisheries brief, but some relevant work, perhaps monitoring and enforcement, could also be carried out by members of the other teams as well.

The new system will take a little time to settle in, but after that, S&TA is keen to monitor its effectiveness at local level. We are asking all members, but especially those directly involved in fisheries management, to tell us of their experiences dealing with Agency fisheries staff at Area level. In particular, we want to know how easy it is to contact someone with fisheries knowledge, and how effective the fisheries teams are at responding to local situations. We also want to hear of your efforts to secure Section 30 movement orders to stock your water, although, with the exception of Stillwater fisheries, this may have to wait until the spring.

Please email us with your experiences. We will collate the information over the coming months and make a report for members during 2003, detailing how the Agency is performing in each Area and who the relevant individuals are to contact over fisheries issues.

Trout & Grayling Symposium – hosted by the Salmon & Trout Association

On Saturday November 23rd, the Salmon & Trout Association hosted a symposium at the Sports Industries Federation,

On Saturday November 23rd, the Salmon & Trout Association hosted a symposium at the Sports Industries Federation, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. The symposium was entitled The Development of Brown Trout & Grayling Fisheries, and its aim was to focus attention on the importance of these two species in the light of the Environment Agency’s Trout & Grayling Strategy.

S&TA led the fisheries consultation process to the strategy on behalf of the Moran Committee, and successfully persuaded the EA to modify some of its original proposals. S&TA Chairman Tony Bird said:

“Some of the issues within the strategy were contentious, and S&TA confronted these at the consultation stage, but the aim of this symposium is to focus people’s attention and look forward with positive attitudes towards trout and grayling management for the future.”

Some 70 delegates attended the symposium and heard an excellent programme of papers delivered by representatives from the EA, Wild Trout Trust, Grayling Society and, of course, S&TA. Subjects covered included habitat degradation and rehabilitation techniques; the pros and cons of stocking, and whether triploids were the right solution in the long term; in-river incubation techniques; facts about grayling and the way forward for their management. Tony Bird added,

“The Association is delighted to invite these organisations to participate and help us show the way ahead. Salmon management has dominated game fisheries management for many years, and it is high time that trout and grayling resumed the importance within fisheries which they fully deserve.”

Lord Moran, Chairman of the highly influential Moran Committee, which gave evidence at every stage of the Warren Committee’s review of fisheries legislation, closed the symposium with a summary of the proceedings, and a wish for all relevant organisations to work together to improve our knowledge and management requirements of these species.

North east drift nets – update

The negotiations to buy out the remaining 70 netsmen have reached something of a stalemate position.

The negotiations to buy out the remaining 70 netsmen have reached something of a stalemate position. The netsmen have indicated that a majority of them are willing to be bought out, and we now have a much clearer idea of the total sum required to purchase enough nets to make the initiative worthwhile. However, there just are not sufficient funds available at the moment to complete the deal, and this has caused the present impasse.

We have, however, revisited the political issues surrounding the drift net fishery. The Government have consistently stated that there is no conservation issue connected to the fishery, and that they are only interested in an accelerated phase-out on management grounds. The fact that three of the five Yorkshire salmon rivers fail to meet the Environment Agency’s own conservation targets seems to be lost in the argument, or that the Scottish east coast rivers affected by the fishery are all candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under the European Habitats Directive. The endangered species which makes each one an SAC is, of course, salmon, and the Government has a responsibility to ensure that no operation under its governance can affect an endangered species, even if that operation is outside the SAC boundaries.

The SAC argument has a potential drawback for anglers, in that the Government could say salmon are endangered and so should not be fished for by any means. However, we believe that anglers now hold the moral high ground in the way that catch and release is widely practised, while a drift-netted salmon is always killed. Also, the socio-economic argument for angling is indisputable, and should give us the negotiating edge in any such negotiation.

We are still working with our colleagues to complete a buy-out of NE coast drift nets, but it is also fair to say that this issue has entered a new political phase as well. One way or another, there is a determination to win through, and put pressure on the Irish Government to accelerate the closure of their nets, thereby setting free perhaps three hundred thousand salmon a year to benefit the Welsh and southern and western English rivers, together with those from continental European countries.

Salmon at the Edge

The sixth Atlantic Salmon Trust Symposium, entitled “Salmon at the Edge”, was held at Edinburgh University on July 16th-18th and was attended by over 200 delegates.

The sixth Atlantic Salmon Trust Symposium, entitled “Salmon at the Edge”, was held at Edinburgh University on July 16th-18th and was attended by over 200 delegates. The papers were of a very high standard, delivered by an impressive group of speakers from the UK, Ireland, America, Canada and Norway. The discussion periods showed a wide degree of anxiety for the future of Atlantic salmon and, while there were some positive reactions to come from the Symposium, there was an over-riding feeling that the species was in crisis, particularly in the USA.

Three Resolutions were suggested by the Planning Committee to take away from the Symposium:

• The urgent requirement for marine fish farming to be properly regulated, so as to protect wild salmonids on their migration away from estuaries

• The need to highlight the potential dangers of post-smolt by-catch in the pelagic mackerel fishery of the North Norwegian Sea, and possibly elsewhere

• The need to support international research into the management and conservation of Atlantic salmon

S&TA was represented by the Director, together with the new Scottish Director, David Henderson, and the former Scottish Director, Patrick Fothringham, for whom this was a final engagement on behalf of the Association north of the border. During the final discussion period, the S&TA contingent was able to table, and have accepted, a fourth Resolution:

• That the pressure be kept up on relevant governments to close all mixed-stock high seas netting of Atlantic salmon

A lasting impression to come from the Symposium was that, although marine survival was a serious problem for salmon, from many different impacts, it was the freshwater environment which held the key to the future viability of the species. Pollution, access to spawning and nursery feeding areas and habitat and water quality were of paramount importance in good freshwater salmon management. These are issues we can address, while many of the marine problems, especially climate change, are beyond our best endeavours.

S&TA will be marching for Liberty & Livelihood

The official S&TA party will meet on the pavement outside our offices at 110 Upper Thames Street, which is only a short walk from the “Livelihood” start line on the Embankment (Blackfriars Bridge).

The official S&TA party will meet on the pavement outside our offices at 110 Upper Thames Street, which is only a short walk from the “Livelihood” start line on the Embankment (Blackfriars Bridge). Members are very welcome to join us, but please arrive by 9.30am at the latest, preferably with an (old) fishing rod to carry, and we will leave at 9.40am for the 10.00am start.

The main S&TA banner will read “The Salmon & Trout Association one hundred years of service to game anglers – and the Environment”. We will also have some placards with the same wording. For further information please contact our office.

Countryside March to go ahead

The Countryside Alliance has announced that the Liberty and Livelihood march, which was postponed last year due to the Foot and Mouth epidemic, will go ahead on September 22nd.

The Countryside Alliance has announced that the Liberty and Livelihood march, which was postponed last year due to the Foot and Mouth epidemic, will go ahead on September 22nd. This march will purely be about rural liberty and livelihoods and the Association will be organising a marching party from Head Office and members are welcome to join us, please call 020 7283 5838.

To register for the Liberty & Livelihood March, call the registration hotline on 0900 102 0900. Alternatively members can contact their S&TA branch to see if local contingent will be attending.

Click here for the March website.

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.

Greenland to help save the wild salmon of Europe and North America

Greenland’s commercial fishermen have taken an historic stand to help restore threatened stocks of wild Atlantic salmon.

Greenland’s commercial fishermen have taken an historic stand to help restore threatened stocks of wild Atlantic salmon.

They have agreed to join their Government and salmon conservation organisations on both sides of the Atlantic in protecting the salmon while the fish are migrating through northern waters. The shoals of salmon will now have a much better chance of returning to their home rivers in Britain, Ireland, continental Europe and North America.

Weeks of negotiations ended in a five year agreement which suspends all commercial salmon fishing and allows only an annual subsistence harvest that will be strictly limited.

In return for volunteering to forego their rights to harvest salmon, the fishermen will find alternative work in a number of new development projects to be introduced along the Greenland coast. A number of successful sustainable fishing programmes for lumpfish and snow crab have already been implemented.

This agreement, in which commercial fishermen are leading the way towards the restoration of wild salmon stocks, demonstrates the dramatic change that has taken place in the attitudes of professional netsmen. They have seen the precipitous decline in wild salmon populations and are offering to help restore the species to abundance. Fewer than 200 wild Atlantic salmon remain in the US where they are protected under the Endangered Species Act, while in Canada and Europe scientists warn that many stocks are well-below safe biological levels.

The Greenland Home Rule Government had already announced its enthusiastic endorsement of the salmon agreement. The Greenland negotiating team included Leif Fontaine, Chairman of KNAPK (the commercial fishermen’s organisation in Greenland), Siverth Amondsen and Toennes Berthelsen. The coalition of salmon conservationists included Orri Vigfusson (NASF), Bill Taylor (ASF), Buff Bohlen (former US State Department Official) and Jerry Clark (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation).

American wins Musto International Open Spey Casting Championship in dramatic final at Broadlands CLA Game Fair

Once again the Musto International Open Spey Casting Championship brought high drama to the climax of the CLA Game Fair.

Once again the Musto International Open Spey Casting Championship brought high drama to the climax of the CLA Game Fair.

The capacity grandstand crowd was joined by hundreds, who lined the banks as the excitement mounted. With six finalists having achieved casts measuring in the high 40s during the heats, Steve Choate of Kalama, State of Washington, USA, thrilled the crowd with a staggering 50 yard cast on the River Test at Broadlands to win the competition. Sealing the Championship was no easy feat; Steve and Ian Gordon from Speyside (2001 Musto Champion) had tied for first place with 48 yards and were to compete head-to-head in a ‘cast off’.

The final had been a truly international event with two contestants from the USA, two from the River Spey, Clive Mitchellhill from Carlisle and Bob Wellard from the banks of the River Tamar in Cornwall.

Fly Casting Championships – Results

Alltmor UK Ladies Trout Distance Championship

1st Susan Sissons 23.75 yards

2nd Jenni Margarson 23.25 yards

3rd Debbie Morgan 22.50 yards

Alltmor UK Ladies Salmon Distance Championship

1st Laura Tonkin 27.75 yards

2nd Jenni Margarson 25.75 yards

3rd Lowri Robinson 25.25 yards

Alltmor UK Men’s Trout Distance Championship

1st Robert Allan 36.50 yards

2nd Stephan Jones 34.00 yards

3rd Russell Rowebotham 33.00 yards

UK Youth Open Trout Distance Championship

1st James Edwards 28.00 yards

2nd Sam Davies 21.00 yards

3rd Tom Davies 20.50 yards

Total Butler Men’s Salmon Distance Championship

1st John Halstead 48.00 yards

2nd Mathew Tonkin 46.50 yards

3rd Andy Lamyman 43.00 yards

Musto International Open Spey Casting Championship

1st Steve Choate 50.00 yards

2nd Ian Gordon 48.00 yards

3rd Way Yin 46.00 yards

Alltmor UK Mixed Open Casting Championship

1st Sue Shaw & Shaun Clarke 134.25 points

2nd Laura & Mathew Tonkin 133.50 points

3rd Susan & Paul Sissons 123.00 points

Official CLA Game Fair Website