Angling Trust Call to Protect Salmon & Sea Trout by Ending Netting Activity

The Angling Trust has submitted a consultation response to the Environment Agency on measures to protect salmon and sea trout in Yorkshire and the North East.

Sea trout and salmon populations are experiencing serious declines. Management measures including the current Net Limitation Order (NLO) (2012), a ban on drift netting (2018) and the retention ban on salmon caught in these nets, have attempted to stabilise populations and yet observations of salmonids returning to our rivers annually are still experiencing a downward trend.

For the English rivers covered by the NLO over the next five years the status of their salmon and sea trout numbers is projected to worsen.

Research has indicated that migratory salmonoids are extremely vulnerable to inshore nets. It is important that the removal of sea trout netting does not translate to an expansion of shore-based netting for other species, such as seabass, which is likely to result in increased bycatch of migratory salmonids.

As the consultation document recognises, recreational angling for the region is worth an estimated £5.5 million and there is considerable evidence of the wider benefits of recreational angling to local economies.  Further restrictions on netting, leading to a recovery in salmonid numbers returning to the rivers of Yorkshire and the North East will only increase the direct and indirect economic value to the region which already surpasses the economic benefits of the netting fishery.

The Angling Trust, therefore, advocate for the removal of sea trout netting as the best option for the conservation of sea trout and to remove the risk of illegal retention of Atlantic salmon. The Trust also advocates that regular stock assessments be carried out at an individual river level for salmonoids to monitor population recovery.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns for the Angling Trust said “The current NLO has been in force for a decade, and while it has meant the number of net licences has reduced this reduction has been far too slow and far too small.  With the parlous state of salmon and sea trout stocks in England, we cannot wait for another decade or more for the remaining nets to be removed.  We need to act now.  We need to see an end to the netting of sea trout.  This is an ideal opportunity to pay compensation to the remaining licence holders and bring this activity to an end.”

The Angling Trust are a member of the Missing Salmon Alliance – a passionate collection of conservation organisations focused on salmon.

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