Agriculture Minister Nick Brown yesterday reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to protect declining stocks of salmon and freshwater fisheries in England.

Outlining his response to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review, Mr Brown announced: 

  • an increase of £3 million a year in fisheries grant-in-aid to the Environment Agency with effect from April 2002. This will enable the Agency to increase its work on conserving and restoring salmon stocks, and improving controls over unauthorised transfers of coarse and non-native fish;

  • up to £750,000, subject to matching funds from interested parties, to launch compensation arrangements designed to accelerate the phase out of mixed stock salmon net fisheries on a voluntary basis;

  • a commitment to introduce proposals for new salmon and freshwater fisheries legislation when Parliamentary time permits;

  • a full response to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review Group’s report as early as possible in the New Year.

Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley said:

“This announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the future of our salmon and freshwater fisheries. The laws in this area are long over-due for reform and the Review Group’s report has been invaluable in focusing attention on the issues.

“Fisheries grant-in-aid in England will increase to £6.292 million in 2002/03 and 2003/04. This is a 30 per cent increase on the 2000/01 allocation. The extra grant-in-aid for the Environment Agency will enable many of the specific fisheries recommendations in the report to be implemented.

“I am also very pleased to be able to offer matching funds of up to £750,000 to accelerate the phase-out of mixed stock salmon net fisheries. Representatives of both the rod and net fishermen have indicated they support this recommendation of the Review Group. It will give a major boost to our conservation effort.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The independent Review Group was established in April 1998 to carry out a fundamental review of all salmon and freshwater fisheries policies and legislation in England and Wales. Its wide-ranging report published in March 2000 contained 195 recommendations. Over 700 individuals and organisations commented as part of the public consultation exercise and largely welcomed the report.

  2. The formal Government Response to the report will be published early in the New Year.

  3. Following advice from ICES that salmon stocks were at unprecedentedly low levels, a number of byelaws to restrict exploitation by both rods and nets in England and Wales were introduced in April 1999. These measures included delaying the start of the netting season until 1 June and requiring anglers to release all salmon they catch (catch and release) before 16 June.

  4. It is current Government policy to phase out coastal mixed stock salmon drift net fisheries in England and Wales. The phase out of the largest of these, off the North East coast of England, began in 1993 and since that time the number of licences issued has halved from 142 to 71.