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Sea trout beach-netting season extension thwarted

A plan by the Fisheries Minister to extend the sea-trout netting season by beach T and J nets  off the north-east coast has been dismissed after a five-week public consultation.

Commercial netting of salmon ended off this coastline on January 1, 2019, but it protected only the catching of salmon. Thus there was no protection afforded for sea trout. Currently, there is a short sea trout netting season in Yorkshire and the north east coast, and recent field-trials conducted by the Environment Agency and commercial netsmen showed that their nets could be used successfully to trap only sea trout and not salmon. In the light of these trials, the Environment Agency was instructed to investigate the possibility of extending beach-netting for sea trout in Yorkshire and the North East.
A consultation was then carried out and, of the 562 online responses, over 93% were against the proposal.

Jon Shelley, Fishery Programme Manager for the Environment Agency, said: “Having reviewed the evidence and the feedback from the consultation responses, we have found it is not appropriate at this current time to recommend an extension to the sea trout netting season”. 

At the time of of the T and J nets closure for salmon, Paul Knight, S&TA CEO had warned, “We are concerned that sea trout will still be exploited in some of the north-east coastal nets and we will be seeking more evidence in the near future as to the true status of English sea trout stocks.

With the fisheries management doubts over climate change and the evidence emerging of salmon and sea trout smolts being smaller because of it, and therefore having less chance of survival at sea, we need to take a precautionary approach now on all migratory salmon stocks, not wait until things get worse.”

The EA’s John Shelley concluded, “The trials showed that the nets were successful in their objective and that the impact of the new nets on salmon stocks were low. But our latest assessment of the status of sea trout stocks identifies that many of them are at risk. Therefore, a precautionary management position is necessary, so we recommend the current netting season is maintained in the Yorkshire and North East net fishery.

“We will continue to monitor the performance of contributing stocks and the impact the fishery has upon them and should sea trout populations improve, we will review this position in the future”.

The EA will formally review the beach-net fishery, including the potential to extend or restore the netting season for sea trout, as part of developing a new Net Limitation Order, on or before December 2022.

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