Salmon and Sea-Trout; Net Trials.

17 May

The Environment Agency has now released further information on how the the trial ‘T’ nets will operate in the north-east fishery area (Article of 4th March 2019 refers) together with information on where nets will operate and to whom permits will/have been issued.

‘T’ Net; Trial Net Controls.

Salmon and Sea-trout

Subject to regulatory approval, from June 1st until August 31st 2019: five of twenty two eligible licensed ‘T’ net nets men will take part in a monitored trial, in District 1 of the north-east fishery (Tweed to Tyne).

These shore based nets will operate in the following locations:-

·     Tyne Conservation Area B (South Shields)

·     Coquet Conservation Area B north (Boulmer Stell)

·     Coquet Conservation Area B south (Amble Stell)

·     Druridge Bay

·     North Tyneside coast / Blyth area

Nets must operate as a sea trout fishery with a small by catch of salmon – not more than 5% of the number of sea trout caught ( i.e. 1 in 20). NB this is salmon caught and released not caught and killed.

The EA will undertake a rolling assessment on a daily, weekly and trial-to-date basis.

The outcome of the trial will depend upon the degree and frequency the nets exceed the salmon target and over what timescale.

Exceeding the 5% target on a particular day by a small margin will trigger increased monitoring and scrutiny. Significant exploitation over a longer period in multiple locations will result in a review of the continued viability of the trial.

The EA reserve the right to halt the trial at any time. A small increase over the target figure on a single day would not be likely to cause netting to be halted, but full control criteria have not yet been fully established.

The EA have set an indicative upper threshold of mortality at not more than 50 salmon per season.

Daily catches will be recorded for all 5 nets over the whole of the trial period. This will be assessed by trial participants completing detailed logbooks, together with boat and shore based observations by agency staff, including landing inspections.

Trial monitoring will be undertaken by EA, CEFAS and DEFRA Officials.

Net Permits.

Permits for the Tyne Conservation Area A – are issued by the Environment Agency, and operate on a reducing basis, in the same way as the Net Limitation Order reduces overall ‘T’ net licences. There are 2 berths in the Tyne Conservation Area fishery, owned by the Church Commissioners, the pier berth and the gun berth, so only 2 nets may fish at any time.

Formerly, six licensees fished these two berths in rotation. As licensees have retired from the ‘T’ net fishery, permits have not been re-issued. There are currently 3 licensees fishing the two berths in rotation. As these licensees retire, their permits to fish within the Conservation Area will not be re-issued to other licensees, and the fishery will reduce over time to zero.

The issue of permits to fish within Coquet Conservation Area B – the Boulmer and Amble Stell fisheries owned by the Duke of Northumberland is not a matter within the Environment Agency’s control. However, permits within this fishery have been issued in recent years on a reducing basis, such that as ‘T’ net licensees who fish in the Stell fisheries retire, new permits have not been issued.

Conclusion

All anglers are trying hard to comprehend how, given the poor official state of sea trout stocks in the North East rivers, a sea trout net fishery, trial or otherwise, that exploits a dwindling resource can be contemplated.

Healthy sea trout stocks in all rivers is to everyone’s advantage, as without this fish there will be no commercial netting and no recreational sea-trout angling.