North East Net Fishery – New Byelaws.

15 Dec

The Environment Agency has recently provided the following update on the introduction of proposed new byelaws for the protection of migratory fish stocks off the northeast coast.

We submitted our byelaws and accompanying evidence to Defra on 17 August 2018, and since that time have been working to provide Defra and the Fisheries Minister George Eustice with any further information and clarification they require to inform the final decision.

Minister Eustice has taken a keen interest in these matters and is well acquainted with the concerns and considerations relating to delivering better regulation for salmon stocks. Once the Minister has considered all the available evidence he will make a decision to confirm the byelaws, subject to any amendments, additions or deletions he feels are appropriate. We expect a decision from the Minister in the near future and will keep all parties informed of the latest position once we have any further news.

The key provisions of the national salmon byelaws are:

Net fishery byelaws

Our proposed byelaws, if confirmed, would see:

1. An end to all drift netting for salmon and sea trout on the North East coast and the closure of the drift net fishery from January 2019.

2. The closure of the T and J net fishery for salmon, allowing the continuation of the beach net fishery from 2019 on a sea trout only basis.

3. Shorter seasons for each district, depending on the number of salmon typically taken in the net fishery. These are:

District 1:          26 March – 31 May (Scottish border to Souter Point, excluding  R. Tweed)

District 2:          No licences (Souter Point to Boulby Crags)

District 3:          26 March – 30 June (Boulby Crags to Hayburn Wyke)

District 4:          26 March  – 31 July (Hayburn Wyke to Yons Nab)

District 5:          26 March  – 31 July (Yons Nab to Thornwick Nab)

District 6:          26 March – 31 August (Thornwick Nab to Mappleton Church Spire)

District 7:          26 March – 31 August (Mappleton Church Spire to Spurn Head)

NB After further consideration and analysis of patterns of salmon and sea trout catches, the proposed length of the netting season for sea trout has been extended by 1 month in Districts 3, 4 and 5 from the seasons proposed in our original byelaw submission.

This decision is based on an assessment of the best and most appropriate balance between providing protection for threatened salmon stocks, and allowing licensed netsmen to continue fishing for sea trout as part of their livelihood.  As our proposed byelaws will require all salmon captured in J nets to be released, and the number of salmon captured in the J net fishery is relatively small, an extension to the netting season for sea trout has been deemed appropriate.

4. We are proposing to run a carefully monitored trial of a modified design of T net in District 1 which is less likely to take salmon in 2019 to determine whether a sea trout only net fishery with a minimal impact on salmon could be extended to the end of August, in line with the current season. We are also considering the potential to undertake a similar trial of a J net comprised entirely of nylon netting (ie with no monofilament in the J comprising the headpiece) in Districts 3-7 if any licensees have an interest in participating in such an opportunity.

The results of any trials which take place next year will be used to inform a decision on whether we licence new designs and specifications of T and J net to fish for sea trout only over the current netting season.  Any new nets would have to have shown they selectively exploit sea trout and do not snag, gill or entangle a significant number of salmon. The introduction of any new net designs would require a new regional fisheries byelaw to be made.

Such a new byelaw would require the Agency to undertake the formal process of consultation on our proposals and presentation of our supporting evidence, followed by an advertisement. A new byelaw would only come into effect once confirmed by the minister.

5. Given our proposals to close the T net fishery for salmon and operate a much shorter netting season, we no longer intend to prohibit T netting in Tyne Conservation Area B at South Shields. Rather, we propose to maintain the two netting stations in this area, allowing net fishing for sea trout only over the shorter season. Similarly, we no longer propose to prohibit T netting in the Boulmer and Amble stell fisheries within Coquet Conservation Area B, but allow T netting to continue for sea trout only over the shorter netting season.

 Rod fishery byelaws

We do not propose to introduce mandatory catch and release for any Yorkshire or North East rivers in 2019. We propose preventing the take of salmon where the stocks are most vulnerable by introducing mandatory catch and release requirements for ‘At Risk’ rivers from 2019, but this does not apply to any North East salmon stocks.

Given the response to the initial consultation we recognise that further regulation could have an impact on angling, our approach for Probably at Risk or better stocks from 2019 will require those rivers to achieve high voluntary catch and release rates of over 90% in the first instance.

Where the 90% catch and release target is not met, we will take decisions on a river-by-river basis whether or not mandatory 100% catch and release should be applied by byelaw. If the current catch and release rate is higher than the proposed rate, then the current rate will be required to be maintained.

We have requested that the national byelaw (Byelaw 13)  dealing with taking of salmon and sea trout on rod and line and the various lures and hook sizes is not confirmed. This is because responses to the advertisement of the byelaws made a strong case for retaining control of appropriate rod fishing methods at a local level by regional fisheries byelaws, to best reflect local circumstances and fishing practises in different parts of England.

Net Limitation Order review

In parallel with the national salmon byelaws, we are also reviewing the Yorkshire and North East Net Limitation Order 2012 (NLO). The NLO regulates the number of net licences that are issued in the Yorkshire and North East net fishery, and restricts the issue of licences to those netsmen who held the same type of licence in the previous year. As licensees retire or otherwise leave the fishery, their licences are not made available to new entrants to the fishery.  In this way the net fishery decreases over time as existing licensees leave the fishery.

The review has largely been completed and will report after the byelaws are confirmed or otherwise by the minister. The 2012 NLO remains in force for a period of 10 years, and is in operation until December 2022.

The mid-term review presents an opportunity to determine whether the provisions of the current NLO, together with the wider regulation of the net fishery continue to provide an appropriate regulatory framework. Under the 2012 Net Limitation Order, there is no provision for the transfer of nets from existing licensees to any other person. We intend no change to this position.

FUR and FEATHERS Fly Fishing Competition.

14 Oct

There is no need to register for this event, just come along at the stated time.

The Missing Salmon Project.

12 Oct
Here is a research project worthy of everyone’s support, particularly if you love your salmon fishing. Even a small donation could make a big difference. This article was originally produced by Fishpal.
Missing Salmon Project
Missing Salmon Project
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For the last 60 million years the Atlantic salmon has been making one of the planets greatest natural migrations, travelling thousands of miles to feed and finally return to their native river to spawn.

Last month we were invited to join the head biologist of the Ness & District Salmon Board whilst he delivered an electro fishing session. He explained to those present that the river Ness is healthy with good numbers smolts, which we could clearly see, but once they leave he said “Fewer numbers are now returning”. A worrying fact and the same story we are hearing across the UK.

This month we have invited the Atlantic Salmon Trust to share with you the Missing Salmon Project. Launched last year, it is seeking to raise money and heighten awareness of the critical plight of one of the nation’s iconic species.

“Wild speculation on the causes of decline are no good – we need evidence!”

We must collectively take action to identify what is happening and determine how to halt this decline. If we can find out what is happing on the salmons journey we can take steps to help increase survival.

It’s time to find our missing salmon.

“Too many times, humanity has acted too late when a species is in decline. We have an opportunity to act now and make a lasting, positive impact so we’d ask everyone with an interest in preserving not only Scotland’s wild identity, but one of the world’s most famous species’ future, to support this ground-breaking project.” Dr Matt Newton, AST

What Needs To Be Done

A scientific study in the UK starting in Scotland to find out what’s happening to wild salmon on their journey down our river systems and out to sea.

What are the migration pathways our smolts use? Identify key reasons for mortality. Define the most likely causes and focus actions. Create and implement plans to reverse the trend. Improve their survival rate so more fish return?

Using the findings recommendations can be made to inform policy and enable management solutions – read more.

“For every 100 salmon smolts that leave our rivers for the sea less than 5 will return. This is a decline of nearly 70% in just 25 years. In just over 40 years wild Atlantic salmon numbers around the world have more than halved”

Why Is The Project So Important

There has been a vast amount of research carried out over the years and most of this has been valuable to give us an improved understanding of mortality factors into migrating salmon. What it has not done is pursue with determination the process of assigning a value to suspects and therefore prioritising their importance. It is only by using an evidence based approach we will win the arguments.

We all know the major suspects and we can all have an uninformed argument with different groups to suggest what is going wrong. What we have failed to do is collate evidence with a value and then assign it to a suspect. It is only in this way that we can challenge the organisations and issues which are impacting on the survival of this iconic fish.

So to all those out there who want to help with the survival of this fish help us collect the evidence and then let us work together to present the evidence so we can put in place policies to help the Atlantic salmon survive.

Please support the Missing Salmon Project.

Your Support

To have a meaningful impact on reversing the Atlantic salmons decline the Atlantic Salmon Trust need to tag and track fish on a scale never seen before in Europe.

They need to raise One Million for the project. This is the kind of figure you see raised on TV or a commercial radio station, not in the world of fishing!

So far they have raised a staggering £800,000 and in order for the project to start next year they need to reach a million. They need the help from everyone reading this newsletter – please show your support.

What Is The Missing Salmon Project

In 2017 the Atlantic Salmon Trust launched the Missing Salmon Project against a backdrop of continued declines in salmon runs across the North Atlantic. The aim of the project is to understand where and how salmon are dying so that management measures can be put in place to reverse this decline. Without such a coordinated effort it is likely that salmon will become an endangered species in our lifetime.

The first part of the Missing Salmon Project was to bring together experts from around the Atlantic and Pacific to start the process of building a framework where the suspects responsible for killing the salmon could be identified. This was started at a major international workshop hosted by the Atlantic Salmon Trust in Edinburgh, November 2017 – read more.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust have published an important Blue Book on the Likely Suspect Framework – read book.

“The global populations of wild Atlantic salmon have declined from 8-10 million in the 1970s to 3-4million fish today. The Missing Salmon project will have an international impact”.

Salmon Tracking Project

Deploying acoustic receivers

The Missing Salmon Project will use acoustic tracking, tagging of juvenile fish, smolts, as they begin their journey from their home river towards the sea. Fish are recorded as they pass through strategic points � which will help determine how many fish make it to the ocean and where mortality occurs.

“If we’re going to have a meaningful impact on reversing the Atlantic salmon’s decline, we need to tag and track fish on a scale never seen before in Europe.”

The tracking project will start in the Moray Firth where up to 20% of the UK salmon stock has to pass on its journey to sea.

The information from the Moray Firth Tracking Project will be fed into the Likely Suspects Framework to give information on the number of fish making it through each of the domains within that region and identify where fish are being lost.

Lessons learned will be transferable to other populations of salmon around the UK.

“By tagging the fish and tracking their progress from their spawning ground and back again, we’ll be able to pinpoint where fish are being lost � and help identify the causes for their increasingly worrying mortality rates.”

Likely Suspects Framework

The Likely Suspects Framework has a track record of success.

In the 1970’s the amount of cod was measured at 18,000 tonnes in the Irish Sea. In 2000, the amount of cod had diminished to 850 tonnes. Today, cod stocks have returned to 11,000 tonnes.

It was used by scientists to establish the key reasons for mortality in cod stocks in the Irish Sea as part of a study which led to vital management recommendations.

The Missing Salmon Project will work with all the relevant agencies to approve stock recovery plans and recommendations which will be presented to policy makers to enact change and save wild salmon from becoming an endangered species. Please show your support to the Missing Salmon Project.


Since 1967 The Atlantic Salmon Trust has been leading the way in research into migratory salmonids. The findings have successfully and radically altered the way in which salmon have been managed during the Trust’s existence.

The trust helps support local projects with funding, which includes the Deveron, Bogie & Isla Rivers Charitable Trust 2017 Radio Tracking Project.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust and University College Dublin are running an innovative project to develop and pilot a pioneering technique to assess the presence or absence of salmon DNA on board ships using environmental DNA (eDNA) – read more.

For many years The Atlantic Salmon Trust has recognised the vital importance of small streams. The Trust has actively encouraged, not alone research into the biology of small streams, but spearheaded an initiative to train volunteers in the mapping and conservation of streams and burns in their local area – read more.

Ken Whelan of the Atlantic Salmon Trust worked with FishPal to produce The Gift a series of Catch & Release Films.

Visit their Knowledge Zone where you can view and download factsheets and worksheets suitable for schools projects. Including their interactive map which is a great way to bring these resources together.

FishPal Tel: +44 (0)1573 470612
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Missing Salmon Project
Missing Salmon Project

Durham Hydro!

12 Oct

Archimedes Screw – Update


Following the report of the 8th September 2018 that the sound system had been removed and a number of additional strobe lights added at the base of the screw to try and deter fish from entering the ‘turbine chamber,’  it now appears that these additional measures have not worked. As a consequence, the lights have now also been disconnected and removed.

What is of more concern is that when migratory fish were seen running up to and into the chamber the operator Durham County Council reduce the speed of the turbine to its minimum setting and despite the turbine producing minimal ‘white water’ fish were still seen to be trying to get into the chamber.

Virtually every angler who has knowledge of this system believe that the only way of stopping fish being damaged by the turbine is to install screens at the entry point. However, the operator DCC is still to be convinced fearing the high cost of regular maintenance.

The saga continues with more and more migratory fish suffering the consequences.