The AST has responded to the consultation document issued by the Environment Agency seeking views on options for further reducing exploitation of salmon under the Five Point Approach to salmon conservation in England.
The AST believes that on rivers with threatened salmon stocks it is essential to maximise the numbers of salmon that survive to spawn, and so as a matter of principle no potential spawner on such a river should be deliberately killed. We agree with the EA that threatened stocks should be defined as those classified as At Risk or Probably at Risk under the EA’s assessment system (although we are arguing that the classification should be based on the current status of stocks, not their expected status in five years’ time). We are therefore supporting Option 2 for both nets and rods.
For net fisheries, this would mean the closure of all net fisheries exploiting stocks from these rivers. We are also supporting the immediate closure of the North-East Coast net fisheries, which take salmon from a large number of English and Scottish rivers. For rods, Option 2 would involve the mandatory release of all salmon caught on the rivers in question, which currently include most salmon rivers in England. While we appreciate that mandatory catch and release may be unpopular with some anglers, we believe that it would remove any ambiguity about the need to return all salmon caught on affected rivers, and creates a level playing field for anglers: efforts by the vast majority to conserve salmon would not be undermined by a small minority continuing to kill fish. It has worked well for spring salmon and, despite, initial opposition, is now generally accepted.
Reducing exploitation is only one element of the Five Point Approach, and the AST has repeatedly stressed the importance of making progress on issues such as agricultural and other pollution, barriers to migration and water abstraction, as well as the threats posed to salmon in estuaries and coastal waters.
You can read our response to the detailed questions in the consultation here: 5PA consultation response
This consultation closed on the 9th October 2017. Visit the Environment Agency consultation page for more information and view submitted responses: Managing salmon fisheries in England and on the Border Esk
Photograph: Leaping salmon Shrewsbury Weir River Severn – Jason Dale – Environment Agency website