Welcome to the web site of Bowland Game Fishing Association

Mar 20, 2015

Salmon Stocks


Action to improve salmon stocks in

Cumbria and Lancashire

 

20 March 2015

Salmon Stocks

Our data shows that, in recent years, there has been a decrease in the numbers of salmon returning to many rivers in Cumbria and Lancashire and to other parts of the UK. We are greatly concerned about this decrease and we know that anglers and fishery owners are also concerned.

Salmon stocks across much of the UK have been particularly low again in 2014 and, based on local information and rod catch returns already submitted, may in fact be worse than we initially thought. We will have confirmation of the 2014 stock status in the next few weeks.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust's review of 2014 recently stated "There is no point in concealing the hard truth that the wild Atlantic salmon is in danger of extinction, at the very least in their southern range. Already the species is virtually extinct from the USA. In the 1970s, Bay of Fundy rivers in Canada had runs of 40,000 salmon annually: they now have less than 200. Portuguese rivers no longer have salmon and the rivers of Galicia and Asturias are on the edge, as are the rivers of southern France, despite heroic efforts by fishery managers.

Rivers such as the Dorset Frome and other English South Coast rivers are already feeling the effects of climate change, as are many un-shaded upland streams further north, in the Dee and Spey catchments in Scotland, for example." [For more go to: www.atlanticsalmontrust.org]

Our role is to make sure that salmon stocks in the 42 principal salmon rivers in England become, as a minimum requirement, capable of maintaining their existing levels. In order to achieve this we need to take urgent action to review the Fisheries Byelaws and Net Limitation Orders. It is important that the Environment Agency and other partners act now to reduce the risk to salmon stocks in future years. 

 

Review of Fisheries Byelaws and Net Limitation Orders (NLO)

We need to continue to increase the number of salmon that anglers must release after catching. To do this, we need to review the current fisheries byelaws and develop new byelaws with increased catch and release targets. And we need to implement any changes as soon as possible. We will also need to determine appropriate measures for the net fisheries operating in the estuaries of the Eden, Leven, Kent, Lune and Ribble.

Based on 2013 declared rod catch statistics for the River Eden, a theoretical bag limit of 1 salmon per season would have saved approximately 75 salmon. A 6 salmon per season limit would have saved 5 salmon.

We value the strong working relationship we have with the Angling Trust, local Fisheries Consultatives and the wider angling community. Working with these groups will be an important part of our byelaws review. 

Once we have carried out our review, in consultation with the angling community, we will propose appropriate new byelaws. We will then send our recommendations to DEFRA for consideration. The table over the page shows the rivers where will be proposing new catch and release byelaws and the timetable we are currently aiming for, this timetable may change if matters are more pressing.

 

Enforcement

Enforcement of fisheries byelaws and angling club rules is a vital part of managing fish stocks. The Environment Agency bailiffs patrol the rivers to check that anglers comply with the byelaws and we take action against any anglers who we find breaching them.

Between April 2012 and Dec 2014, in Cumbria and Lancashire, we have prosecuted 406 people for bye-law offences, which includes 396 for rod and line offences.

 

River Environment

In addition to reviewing the byelaws and net limitation orders, we recognise that there are a variety of others ways of improving the river environment to increase salmon stocks. And while our rivers have never been healthier these include improving physical river habitat, water quality and access to spawning grounds across the river catchments.

For example, last year, we provided further funding to support the Ribble Rivers Trust Urban River Enhancement Project in Burnley. The aim of this project is to deliver improvements to fish passage and aquatic habitats. We are also designing and constructing fish passage improvements to one of our gauging weirs on the Lower Wyre. 

In partnership with Natural England and the three rivers trusts in Cumbria, we are working to restore river channels that have been artificially straightened to the detriment of the local flora and fauna. Much of this work has been delivered in the last 8 months and we are seeing the benefit of this with over 20 salmon redds recently seen in the restored reach of the Lyvennet at Barnskew.

Our Land and Water Environment Management teams are busy improving water quality benefiting local flora and fauna, including salmon. This work involves catchment walkovers to identify sources of pollution. This is followed up by visits or inspections to various premises and could take them to farms, catteries, kennels, hotels, caravan parks, industrial estates and private houses. Improvements are secured through either working with people or through enforcement action.  Many discharges from premises are already permitted and these teams ensure that the discharges are compliant.

Working with United Utilities we are supporting their Catchment Wise Intervention work which is their new partnership based approach to tackling water quality issues in lakes, rivers and coastal waters across the North West. Their funding of this work through local partnerships will see improvements which will also benefit salmon (and trout).  United Utilities also continue to make significant investment through their asset management planning process.

Through our supporting role with catchment partnerships and the catchment based approach, we are seeing the delivery of habitat improvement schemes on the Wyre at Scorton using DEFRA and other non-Environment Agency funding sources. On the Ribble catchment the Keeping Rivers Cool Project (supported by the catchment partnership) has continued to plant trees alongside rivers and streams which are at risk of exceeding the temperature threshold for salmon (and trout) in summer. This is for both rivers and streams where the temperature is already above the threshold or those where it could go above the threshold in the future given the expected impacts of climate change. The trees will provide shade and maintain the water temperature below that likely to cause salmonid mortality.

This approach, together with our responsibility for enforcing environmental regulations, is the foundation for protecting and improving the aquatic environment for the benefit of our flora and fauna and the communities who value them. We are currently consulting on draft River Basin Management Plans which will also shape future delivery of environmental improvements. For more information and the opportunity to comment please go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/update-to-the-draft-river-basin-management-plans

 Our work with partners to improve the river environment, in addition to taking enforcement action, has noticeably improved sea trout stocks in the last two years from previous low levels. Some fisheries have recorded good sea trout catches in recent years. And good stocks of herling have been seen in the lower reaches of rivers during 2014. This bodes well for future stocks. We are hopeful that improvements to the river environment could start to have the same effect on salmon stocks.

 

Review of Fisheries Byelaws and Net Limitation Orders Timetable

 

River (s)

2014 salmon stock assessment

The start of the Environment Agency consultation with the angling community

Date when our recommendations are to be submitted to DEFRA

Date when the new byelaws and/or Net Limitation Orders are intended to be in force.

Leven and Crake

On or before May 2015

Summer 2015

Early 2016

May 2016

Ribble

On or before May 2015

Early 2016

Late 2016

February 2017

Eden*

On or before May 2015

Early 2015

Summer 2016

November 2017

Lune

On or before May 2015

Late 2018

Summer 2019

November 2019

Kent

On or before May 2015

Summer 2017

Early 2018

May 2018

Derwent

On or before May 2015

Summer 2017

Early 2018

May 2018

Border Esk*

On or before May 2015

Early 2015

Summer 2016

November 2017

 

* Brought forward by 1 year from 2017 to 2016 due to increasing concerns about salmon stock status.

 

We will be sending out a further briefing with more details about the consultation process for the Leven and Crake net limitation order and byelaw reviews and the Eden, Border Esk and Solway net limitation order and byelaw reviews. Indications suggest that the Derwent timetable will also need to be accelerated.

As an interim solution, we are considering reducing the number of salmon that can currently be taken for the Solway Haaf Net Fishery. This would be a time limited solution until the new byelaws take effect. We will send you guidance on this when the details have been finalised.

If you have any queries in the meantime, please contact NWFish@environment-agency.gov.uk or call our customer service line on 03708 506 506 and ask for the Cumbria or Lancashire Fisheries, Biodiversity and Geomorphology Team Leader.

 

Category: General
Posted by: editor