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Minister Acts to Save Salmon in North Sea

17 December 2012

UK - The Angling Trust has warmly welcomed the decision by the UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP to reduce significantly the netting of salmon and sea trout off the North East Coast.

Fisheries charities and the Angling Trust have campaigned for many years for the removal of these nets because they take fish returning to a large number of rivers indiscriminately (known as ‘Mixed-Stock Fisheries’ (MSF)). Such exploitation is regarded as bad practice by the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation organisation (NASCO) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

Because salmon and sea trout nearly always return to the river where they were born, Mixed-Stock Fisheries prohibit management of each river’s population of fish. Commercial fishermen in Greenland and the Faroes, where most salmon from UK rivers go to spawn, have also been questioning why they should continue to refrain from exploiting the stocks in their waters when our government has been licensing a Mixed Stock Fishery to operate in UK waters. This decision is an important contribution to progress towards sustainable fisheries management throughout the Atlantic.

A Defra spokesperson said: “In confirming the North East Coast Net Limitation Order careful consideration has been given to the assessment of salmon and sea trout stock levels, the UK’s international commitments to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation, good practice for salmon fisheries management and socio-economic factors.”

George Hollingbery MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group said: "I am delighted to hear that the Secretary of State has taken this very sensible decision to protect salmon stocks. The salmon angling business is worth millions to the UK economy each year with a fish caught on rod and line in a river worth many times more to the economy than one caught by net at sea. It is also a much more sustainable approach. Netting at sea indiscriminately takes stock from all river populations.

“Angling allows management regimes to be set up on a river by river basis in reaction to the state of the specific populations that exist there, with many fish being released so that they can go on to spawn the stocks of the future. By signalling an end to this sort of fishery in the UK, the Government has sent a strong message to fishermen in Greenland that it supports the efforts they have taken to stop exploiting mixed stocks from Europe.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “We warmly welcome this announcement and applaud the Minister and the Secretary of State for taking the right decision to protect and improve fish stocks. This will have great benefits for the angling industry, which employs thousands of people and is a vital part of the rural economy of the UK.

“This is an important victory not just for the fish that were caught in these nets, but for the entire management of populations in the Atlantic. The continuation of this commercial fishery risked the restart of mixed-stock netting in Greenland and the Faroes which would have been disastrous for many salmon stocks in the UK.”

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