Minutes of a meeting held at Comrades Club, Morpeth at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 4th April 2018.

15 Apr

1. Chairman’s Welcome

Barry Gibson welcomed the eighteen people present and thanked them for attending on what was an awful snowy night


2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from:

Eric Peet
David Carrick
Phil Adams
Richard Lindsay

In the absence of the last named, Stephen Drury volunteered to take the minutes.


3. Proposed National Salmon & Sea Trout Protection Byelaws

Objections to any proposals must be made before the 12th April and not the 8th April as originally stated. It was generally agreed that we as a group must maintain pressure on the relevant authorities in order to gain an increased protection for our migratory species.

The announcement that all drift nets will be closed from 2018 was welcomed by all those present (although the EA web site states that ‘drift nets will be off for 2018’ – BG to look into.) Regarding the T & J nets shortened season, concern was raised regarding the policing of said nets, especially the return of any salmon. Caught. Another great concern was the damage to salmon on release from nets – would they survive being caught once let alone the potential for multiple nettings? It was stressed that on a socio-economic front, each rod caught salmon was worth around £1,700 to the greater local economy.

A copy of a document dated 5th March 2018, signed by the Director of Legal Services, Peter Kellet , endorsed with an official seal was also available for members to view. Is this the start of the procedure or a final document raised prior to the consultation?

Most queries by those present were regarding hook sizes and types to be allowed from 2019. Most hooks measured converted to a size 8 for a 7mm gape and size 2 for a 13mm gape. It was generally agreed that these proposals regarding hook types/sizes was not onerous and whilst not ideal were far from insurmountable.
A potential for 8,000 more fish into our river systems could occur under the EA proposals and it was again stated that a response to these proposals must be made by our members. Any evidence of illegal fishing (by nets) must be reported, preferably with boat names, vehicle registrations, dates and times accordingly. Any recovery of stocks must be reviewed in the near future and any potential benefits of a re-stocking programme to be stated.

It was again emphasised that EVERY rod licence holder MUST fill in their catch returns even for blank seasons or nil effort.

Responses to the proposals must be made individually, stressing the need for T & J nets to be banned as of now, as the current situation regarding these as well as drift nets is not sustainable. It was agreed that re-stocking of rivers must be brought up with the relevant authorities (both brown trout and migratory species). Pressure needs to be brought to bear regarding control of cormorants, mergansers and especially goosanders – an alien species, all having a detrimental effect on smolt survival.

In-river obstructions need removing with special mention of the Tees Barrage and the Archimedes screw on the river Wear at Durham being two of the major local problems. It was also proposed that we as anglers help clear up any waste plastic we encounter when on the river bank. It was also suggested that spruce branches, or similar, be placed near the bank as a refuge for smolts, small trout etc. especially close to weirs – proven to work!

A request will be made for the attendance at the next meeting of a representative from the Protection Authority.


4. Summary

All responses must be in by 12th April with special emphasis that T & J nets MUST be policed by the relevant authorities.


5. Meeting Closed
There being no further business the meeting closed at 9.20 p.m.

Minutes 2016-10-26

26 Dec

Northumbrian Game Fishing Association

Minutes of a Meeting Held at Comrades Club, Morpeth

at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 26th October, 2016

1. Chairman’s Welcome

Barry Gibson thanked everyone for attending, made the requisite safety announcements and asked everyone to ensure that mobile phones were set to silent mode or turned off.


2. Apologies for Absence

Apologies had been received from :

Brian Bourner
David Carrick
Chris Lucas
Chris Richardson

3. Minutes

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and unanimously approved


4. Matters Arising


Colin Rosemorgan now has a licence that covers all Northumbrian Anglers’ Federation waters.

No other licences were notified to the meeting, but it was thought possible that Westwater Angling may also have obtained one.

Willy Farndale stated that we need to encourage more riparian owners to apply for licences, pointing out in addition that such licences were not only for cormorants, but also covered goosanders.  Some people had expressed the opinion that it was difficult to obtain a licence to cover goosanders but this was not true and anyone wishing to obtain one could seek help from Richard Bamforth (telephone 07904 041518  ).

It was also pointed out that the limits for each licence within a river system were transferrable.


The stated aim of the government is to bring an end to drift netting on September 1st 2022.

It was noted that the attempt to ban T and J nets from certain (Scottish) rivers for three years was in breach of EC regulations.

The Chairman pointed out that 85% of all fish taken by nets are from the North East area.  District 1 has 25 of the 56 T and J nets and 12 out of the 13 drift nets for the North East, mainly between Newbiggin and Holy Island

Dave Cave reported on a meeting with Dave Shelley of The Environment Agency who is responsible for monitoring the commercial nets, and with Mark Lloyd, who is the Angling Trust’s Chief Executive.
The meeting concentrated on the EA’s 5-point plan and the Net Limitation Order. John Shelley wants to put a quota on the nets as a result of the forthcoming 2017 review of the Net Limitation Order.
The reported net catch of salmon and sea-trout for 2015 was around 78,000, and around 56,000 in 2014; 2016 was expected to be around the same figure.   Five years previously this figure had been around 16,000.  Against a background of declining and endangered stocks, such an increase in commercial exploitation was unacceptable.
It was also noted that for all the nets and the level of reported catches, there are only four bailiffs to police the North East area.
Expectations were not high for any significant changes in the near future, and neither The National Trust nor the Rivers Trust had been informed of anything.
Dave also reminded the meeting that the North East was designated as a mixed stock fishery (with migratory fish destined for Scottish rivers as well as the North East area).  The nets in Scotland have been bought out, but the EA will not make this compulsory in the North East as the fishery has not been demonstrated to be otherwise unsustainable.

Dave Cave also pointed out that many figures may be unreliable, as, for instance, the Wear runs of migratory fish had suspiciously risen last year by 8,000 in a year when the counter was largely out of order and estimates had been used.

Willy Farndale stated that fish were being hammered below the lower dam at Warkworth by seals and cormorants.  If the middle were taken out of that dam, this would allow the fish freer passage and reduce predation.  A similar improvement had been made at Bothal on the Wansbeck.


5. Global Salmon Stocks

The Chairman introduced this topic by pointing out that problems with declining salmon stocks are not just local, but a world-wide problem.

In San Francisco, the Federal authorities had cut the netting and rod seasons in half, an option that is also within the powers of the EA should they choose to exercise it.  This was in reaction to several seasons of low flows and declining stocks, where only 3% of juvenile salmon born made it to the sea.

Scandinavians own some of the salmon farms in Scotland as they don’t want the problems brought by the cages on their own doorstep.

Dave Cave then pointed out that Icelandic and Scandinavian fisheries have resumed taking fish in reaction to the mixed fishery netting in the UK.

The Chairman said that some of the migratory routes in the North Atlantic were changing as currents altered due to climate change, but there were also fish changing routes for other reasons.  Many under-nourished fish were now returning, indicating poor feeding grounds.  He also used examples from the popular book “Fishing Vignettes” of massive fish kills as a cautionary tale; we need to think of the heritage we will leave for our children and grand-children.

He then mentioned that in 2005, following the seal distemper outbreak, there were massively reduced numbers of seals on the Farne Islands.  Bill Hindmarsh also pointed out that in 1975, the last cull had removed 804 pups and 660 adult females.

Willy Farndale regretted that everything seemed out of balance, and we need to redress it, quoting the example of red kites.  Rules were being set for the countryside by people who neither lived in it nor understood it.  Rab (Federation member and gamekeeper at Wallington) stated that in the last year more than 300 foxes had been taken out of Wallington and pf seven people in the shoot 30 years ago, only one remained.  Others pointed out that one of the directors of the National Trust had banned the shooting on their property of any members of the crow family, despite the damage they do.

It was generally agreed that we, the anglers, need to take back control of our sport.  Dave Cave urged everyone to lobby through the Angling Trust, as this is the only body that represents us.


6. Seeking recognition of declining migratory fish stocks

The Chairman then introduced this topic by drawing attention to the EA 2009 Report on the Economic Value of Angling.

He also drew attention to recent reported rod catches:


2013   6,469
2014   4,269

Sea Trout

2013    3,751
2014    3,524

He also quoted from Environment Agency figures published 4th September 2015 in relation to money raised from North East Salmon licence fees in 2014-15

Full licences       2,565  @  £72  =   £184,680
Concessionary    1,582   @  £48  =    £75,936
Junior                    375  @    £5  =      £1,875
8-day                     295  @  £23  =      £6,785
1-day                  1,277  @   £8   =    £10,216

Total paid by anglers                     £279,492

Total licence fees of T & J nets         £44,000

For the fees paid, anglers’ interest are grossly unrepresented bearing in mind that rod anglers make the greatest contribution and if the EA was run on a company basis anglers would be the major shareholders.

Dave Cave reinforced these remarks by stating that Felling Fly Fishers Club pays a total of £110,000 per year before a single fish is caught, and there is an average of 2 fish per year per rod.



7. Brown Trout

Willy Farndale reported that the Coquet trout were in dire straits.  In his opinion there is no point in stocking if you cannot stock with breeding fish.

Phil Adams stated that there appears to be plenty of trout in the lower Tyne, citing a recent EA coarse match there that caught over 60, but the upper Tyne appears to have very few trout in the last few years.

Dave Cave reported that the position on the Wear is very similar – plenty in the lower river and very few in the upper reaches.

The Chairman expressed regret that there were so many rivers un-represented at this meeting, and Willy Farndale also drew attention to the lack of involvement of riparian owners.

In response to some expressions of dismay, with people wondering whether anything could be done, Dave Cave pointed out that the Wear Angling Association had started out the same way as we had, but that now the EA realise that they are not going to go away and need to be dealt with, so that NGFA should stick with it.


8. North East Fisheries Forum

The Chairman drew attention to this meeting scheduled in one week’s time for the same venue.  This would be the first meeting in the area that the EA have ever held and it was very important that it should be well attended.  He reported that Mark Owen from the Angling Trust, who attended our last meeting, would also be there.

The Chairman also urged all those asking questions or making points to ensure that these are based on facts, so that they could not be dismissed out of hand.  He also suggested that we concentrate on demanding more consultation.

Dave Cave stressed that our main concern must be the number of nets in District 1, and the forthcoming review of the Net Limitation Order.




The Chairman then thanked all for attending, again stressed the need for a good turnout at the North East Forum and closed the meeting.




Minutes 2015-10-28

15 Nov

Minutes of a Meeting Held at Comrades Club, Morpeth

at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 28th October, 2015


Chairman’s Welcome

The Chairman, Barry Gibson, welcomed all who had braved the mist for attending despite the inclement weather.

He announced that Arthur Winter had resigned for personal reasons from the position of Secretary. The Chairman offered his thanks on behalf of the association to Arthur Winter for all his sterling work.  For this meeting, the Treasurer Richard Lindsay had agreed to take minutes, but we would welcome volunteers to replace Arthur.

He also announced that Mark Owen from The Angling Trust would be attending the second half of the meeting.


Apologies for Absence

Apologies had been received from the following:


Arthur Winter

Eric Peet

Bob Smith

Bill Hindmarsh

David Carrick


Minutes of Previous Meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting had been distributed in advance. These were approved.


Matters Arising


The Chairman stated that the Environment Agency had not proved very helpful, but that The Angling Trust may be able to help. It was reported that cormorant numbers were again getting out of hand with the view expressed that it was impossible to get a licence to shoot them.   The Chairman reiterated that the Angling Trust may help represent our interests to the Environment Agency.



It was reported that drift netting is to cease in 2022. As for T&J nets, it was reported that the Scottish government had been held to be in breach of an EU Directive, so will move to remove these nets more quickly. The hope was expressed that if Scotland can do this, it might give some impetus to the situation with the English nets.  It was further reported that two T&J nets had recently been bought off the Tweed.



Environment Agency

The Chairman reported that 4% of the licence fund income would go to The Angling Trust who had won a tender to the EA for a number of services to include the training of voluntary bailiffs.

There was to be an investigation internally of the allocation of resources with the EA.

Concern was reported from the members present for the need to stock with breeding fish, which is not helped by the EA directive on genetic integrity. It was pointed out that the River Coquet used to have a functioning commercial hatchery which could still be brought back into use to raise stock from stripped native fish.

The question was asked from the floor of where does the EA’s money go? And what is the allocation of total funds to the North?

One member opined that the EA was a waste of time for the Coquet as it is a working man’s river and those who fish it do not have the wealth or title to wield influence with the EA.   If it were not for The Northumbrian Anglers’ Federation, nothing in his opinion would ever get done for the Coquet.

It was further reported that Paul Douglas, the EA bailiff, had been directed to restrict preventative activity and only to respond to incidents.


Angling Trust Meeting

At the recent meeting there had been a presentation from The Rivers Trust on helping water retention in upland areas. This was a reasonably cheap and effective method, and the Chairman suggested that this might be carried out on the Coquet.  The Rivers Trust’s funding is from  EC grant money, and so this is probably a financially viable project.



Any Other Business

It was pointed out that there were no representatives at the meeting from Westwater Angling Club, and it was requested that they be sent a letter to advise of the next meeting. The view was also expressed that Lord Ridley and Mr. Lishman should also be contacted directly.

The Chairman then reported that the EA, The Angling Trust, the police and the Freemen of Durham have agreed in conjunction with the Wear Angling Association that the steps area which had long suffered from blatant snatching of fish was to be closed to angling and designated a Conservation Area.   This has the effect of penalising legitimated fishermen, but should be of considerable benefit to the migratory fish.

Rob Stephenson of The Angling Trust then updated the meeting about netting in Scotland. A review has now been completed and although legislation has yet to be enacted, the intention is to stop netting for three years in an area twenty miles either side of the mouth of the River Tweed.  After that period, the situation will be reviewed.

The possibility was raised and discussed of salmon fishing becoming compulsorily “catch and release”.

A short discussion was also held on the accuracy or otherwise of current fish-counter technology.



Presentation by Mark Owen of The Angling Trust


Mark introduced himself as the Head of Freshwater for the Angling Trust, and outlined their organisational structure, pointing out that The Angling Trust and Fish Legal although linked are separate entities for practical and legal reasons.



AT have many people of influence, including twenty MPs at Westminster, representing their interests.

There is currently a judicial review ongoing, at AT’s instigation, of the EA’s failure to control agricultural pollution.

AT officers will also be meeting with the Fisheries Minister on 19th November to discuss the plight of Atlantic salmon.

Other areas that AT is campaigning about are predation by cormorants and goosanders, abstraction and “fracking”.



AT is concerned to developed participation in angling, and has secure funding towards this aim form both Sport England and the EA.



An extensive range of activities on behalf of and funded by EA has been taken on by AT following a competitive tender. The funds are allocated from the Rod Licence Fund.



A voluntary bailiff service had been trialled in the South East and is now being rolled out to other areas, including the North East. Regional Enforcement Managers are being appointed and an announcement was to be made within the week on the AT website of the appointees.  The Manager for the North East previously served with the police force in the North East and therefore has extensive connections with the police


Angling Improvement Fund

A further £200,000 of funding for this area has been announced.


Fishery Management Advisers

Their role was outlined, and one of their more notable recent successes has been to have licences to control cormorants and goosanders allocated on an area basis rather than individually. This has distinct advantages in keeping a whole area clear, rather than just moving the problem from one river or Stillwater to another.


Invasive Species

This section deals with direct threats to fish health such as gyrodactylus salaris with simulations run to ensure appropriate and timely responses, as well as other environmental threats like signal crayfish, Japanese Knotweed etc.




Mark pointed out that the AT website has a considerable resource of information and urged all present to avail themselves of this. He confirmed that the three biggest issues facing AT were netting, predation and agricultural-based pollution.


Question and Answer Session

In response to a specific question on obtaining licences to control cormorants and goosanders, Mark referred the person concerned to Richard Bamforth of AT who would be pleased to assist and whose details were on the website.

Mark also clarified that the focus on agricultural pollution was on Special Areas of Conservation.  There is a list and map on the AT website with the forty-eight specific rivers about which they are going to court.

A question was raised about water quality, and Mark confirmed that any individual has the right to ask for and receive from the EA details of their water sampling results.

Mark clarified that Natural England is the regulator for Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The voluntary bailiffs trained by AT are not to take over the responsibilities of the EA bailiffs, but rather to support them by supplying them with appropriate intelligence.

In November/December, the EA will publish a report detailing where licence money is spent.

The BBC have appointed an AT director to the Countryside Board, which should help the accuracy of future programmes.



Meeting Closed

The Chairman thanked Mark Owen for taking the time to travel through difficult conditions to give us a very informative and useful talk.

There being no further business, the meeting was closed at 9.30 p.m.