Keep netting out of the Salcombe Estuary – Devon and Severn IFCA launch public consultation

We have updated this previous article (originally posted on the 27 November), having received clarifications on some incorrect information previously sent to us.

The public consultation on allowing netting in the Salcombe Estuary was opened today (1st December) and runs to the 19th January 2024, after a proposed amendment was agreed by the Devon and Severn Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (D&SIFCA) Byelaw and Permitting Sub-Committee (B&PSC).  The Angling Trust will be vigorously opposing the change to the current netting byelaw.

The findings of the formal consultation will be discussed by the B&PSC in February.  It is this committee who will decide on the changes to be made to the Netting Permit Conditions.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said, “Allowing netting to resume in the Salcombe estuary would be a disaster for environment and wildlife of the estuary.  This is an important bass nursery area and a popular sea angling destination with important populations of mullet, gilthead bream, flounder, plaice and salmonids all found in the estuary.

“The Devon and Severn IFCA has a good byelaw in place to protect our estuaries from the destructive and indiscriminate impact of netting.  In seeking to make this change, the Byelaw and Permitting Sub-committee have simply got it wrong.  We will be fighting this proposal and are calling on all sea anglers to do the same.”

The Angling Trust will be putting together the case against this short sighted and irresponsible proposal and will be working with other angling groups and stakeholder who will be impacted to fight these changes.  We will be publishing our response to support sea anglers who, like us, want to oppose this change.


Details and information, including how to respond, can be found on the Devon and Severn IFCA website, here: Formal Public Consultation – Changes to the Netting Permit Conditions – Devon & Severn IFCA | Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (

The Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary is home to incredibly important recreational angling areas, along with being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The species that these proposed nets are most likely to impact are bass, mullet, gilthead bream, flounder, plaice and salmonids – all recreationally important species.

The flounder fishery is one of the most prominent in the UK and as a species, it is a large driver of getting people into sea angling at an early age, being an accessible fish for many to catch. The Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary plays host to numerous angling events throughout the year focused on flounder, often raising thousands for a variety of charities whilst also promoting increased angling spend.

The estuary’s gilthead fishing is arguably the best in the country, or at least the most established. Angling brands are pursuing this sector as one of key growth, with dedicated anglers emerging in the same way as the bass and mullet sector – two other vitally important recreational fisheries within the estuary.

Tackle specific to gilthead fishing is starting to emerge on the market. The initial set up of rod mandrels and other machining to create such tackle runs into thousands, if not tens of thousands of pounds. None of this would be done if there was not the payoff expected, and the Salcombe-Kinsbridge estuary fishery is critical to achieving this. We will not stand by as commercial fishing interests attempt to argue that this is their livelihood whilst it is only a hobby for the recreational sector when the truth is that the recreational angling economy is far greater.

We believe that the proposals, especially in-so-far as they impact bass and potential nursery areas, are at complete odds with the objectives outlined in the draft Bass FMP. We firmly believe that the best way to support coastal communities is to maximise the benefits of recreational angling, not cut the sector off at the knees by approving non-selective and destructive netting.

We will be opposing these proposals in our response to the current consultation and hope that those already aware of, and concerned by, the proposals will support us through their own responses.



As recreational sea anglers, it’s essential to stay informed and engaged in matters that directly impact the health of our ocean and the future of our sport. The Angling Trust is committed to fighting for fish, fishing and the environment.    

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