Muddy Waters in the River Severn

17 Mar

This BBC news item highlights the latest thinking, or lack of it, from the Environment Agency. Despite stating that they want to work with anglers in finding the best way forward, the EA’s proposals are confusing or confused to say the least.

They recommend prohibiting the use of the estuary draft net and putcher fisheries to capture salmon and sea trout for the next ten years, but propose to allow up to 22 lave nets to continue on a catch and release basis. The lave nets are those ones that look like a giant triangular landing net. Just what is the point of that? They seem likely to do more damage than good, even if they can be argued to be something of a tourist attraction. What would be next? Cormorant and goosander reserves in the headwaters? Feeding the seals on Denny Island?

Proposals for anglers include mandatory catch and release, banning bait fishing for salmon and sea trout, barbless hooks only for all methods and singles only on lures and spinners. There is a wealth of research into multi-hook rigs on lures and spinners, and we have seen no conclusive evidence that singles cause less damage: rather the other way round.

We saw similar proposals for the North East, and thankfully the EA decided against most of it. Do the regions actually consult with each other as well as the public?

If such proposals become the bye-laws on the Severn, what are the chances of that being used as an argument for implementation in other areas? Or perhaps we are just being cynical? We should be wary of these proposals for the Severn even if they do not immediately or directly impact us, and in any way possible lend our support to the anglers who may be affected by them.