Tougher catch limits advised to save salmon

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Draconian new restrictions on the catching and sale of salmon from the rivers of England and Wales were recommended yesterday in a fresh study of the problems of the fish, whose stocks are in serious decline.

Draconian new restrictions on the catching and sale of salmon from the rivers of England and Wales were recommended yesterday in a fresh study of the problems of the fish, whose stocks are in serious decline.

An annual limit should be introduced on the number of salmon that individual anglers and netsmen can catch, and the sale of all rod-caught salmon should be banned to discourage poaching and over-exploitation by legitimate anglers, according to the report of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review Group, set up two years ago by Jack Cunningham, a keen salmon angler and then minister of agriculture.

The drift-net fishermen of the north-east coast of England, whose boats intercept the returning salmon stocks of many Scottish rivers, should be bought out, with the Government contributing "substantial funding" towards compensation fornetsmen leaving the fishery on a voluntary basis, the report recommends.

Such a buy-out has been put forward by the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, chaired by the Icelander Orri Vigfusson, which has already made similar arrangements with net fishermen in Greenland and the Faeroes. Mr Vigfusson said last night: "This is terrific news. We have said all along that we will put our money down, and now I hope the British Government will put its money down too."

In dealing with coarse fish, the report recommends that the close season on rivers and canals, running from 15 March to 15 June, should be ended, as it is not necessary, and a European stock recovery plan should be developed for eels, which are in serious decline.

The report and its conclusions will now be considered by the Fisheries minister, Elliot Morley.

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