Saturday, 25 January 2020

Wouldn't want to comment really.  Seen it all before, especially this reference below; 


g"Agreed to be the lead partner in a National Lottery Heritage Fund project ‘Back from the Brink’ which, if successful, would include action to tackle to improve habitats including resolution of habitat connectivity and to inspire people to discover, value and act for Wales’ threatened species

 h   We have been 'Back from the Brink' before if I remember correctly.  Will the end be 'How the Wye was won' I wonder.  Seen that before somewhere too!!!!


WALES –
TACKLING THE ‘SALMONID EMERGENCY’
SUMMARY REPORT


(VERSION 24.1.20 – SUBMITTED TO WFF and LFG sub-groups)

INITIAL STATEMENT


Introduction
This plan is a response to the request from the Welsh Government Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs for a ‘Plan of Action for Salmon and Sea trout’. This follows her confirmation of new restrictions on rod and net fisheries across Wales which will come into place in 2020.
In compiling this Plan, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has sought and received contributions from all stakeholder groups, consisting of all key NGOs, representative bodies, Local Fisheries Groups, fishery owners and some anglers. The Plan will be regularly reviewed and will be a central part of future communications on matters relating to salmon and sea trout stocks.
The Plan indicates that Welsh Government, NRW and our partners and stakeholders understand the current severity of the status of salmon and sea trout stocks and the multiple factors affecting them, and that together we will take steps to address and resolve these.
Restoring our stocks to the abundance last seen 30-40 years ago will not happen overnight. Action is needed both to address the easily recognised pressures on stocks today, such as the adverse effects of inappropriate land-use, but also emerging and new pressures such as the impact of climate change on habitats.
This plan therefore seeks remediation of adverse pressures where it is in our direct capability to do so. Ongoing influence will also be brought to bear on pressures arising outside our immediate jurisdiction that are identified as pressures on our stocks. We also need to adapt our strategy as pressures emerge, develop and change.
Success will see our stocks flourish once again, achieving the targets we set for ourselves but importantly also contributing to better socioeconomic outcomes. We can contribute to achieving many of the wellbeing goals for Wales: -
·         a resilient Wales with healthy functioning ecosystems that support social, economic and ecological resilience and the capacity to adapt to change. For example, climate change, which drives us to ensure that our sensitive upland streams are prepared to buffer the worst effects of a warming climate;
·         a more prosperous Wales through increased uptake of valuable recreational angling;
·         a healthy Wales with more people enjoying the opportunity to experience healthy populations of fish in our rivers.

NRW commends a shared vision for salmon and sea trout in Wales: -
“To protect, through the application of best-practice science and management, the sustainability of our natural resource of wild salmon and sea trout stocks in Wales.”
We will achieve our vision and underlying objectives through deploying the resources available to us in order to fulfil our statutory duties, delivering against the statutory guidance that we receive from Welsh Government, and whilst proactively seeking further resources to tackle the many challenges that exist to stock sustainability.
It is very important to note that NRW works with a range of partners, with whom many objectives and priorities are shared, and who also deliver outcomes for our rivers. This Plan has been discussed with them, and we will continue to regularly communicate with them and all stakeholder groups across Wales in future.
Salmon and sea trout are important species to fishermen, not least because of the opportunity for healthy recreation and the socioeconomic value that arises from well-run fisheries. However, they are also important to society as a whole for whom the presence, or absence, of these iconic fish is widely regarded as a potent indicator of environmental health and quality.
In the past, stocks were more resilient to environmental challenges and were able to sustain significant mortality in rod and net fisheries. However, as the range of pressures has increased and new challenges have emerged, threatening the survival of fish in both the marine and freshwater environments, the status of stocks has progressively declined. Declines are generally ongoing, threatening the future of our populations of fish as never before. 

The importance of salmon and sea trout in Wales
Both species are protected in law. Salmon are a species designated under the Habitats Directive, supporting classification of six rivers as Special Areas of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, whilst sea trout are recognised in the national Biodiversity Action Plan and trout are features of several SSSIs (sites of special scientific interest).
However, all river populations are performing poorly: all 23 salmon stocks in our ‘principal salmon rivers’ are ether ‘At Risk’ of ‘Probably at Risk’ of failing to achieve their management targets until at least 2024. and most are in ongoing decline. Over two-thirds of our sea trout stocks are similarly classified.
Fishing in Welsh rivers is economically important, currently supporting over 700 full-time equivalent jobs and producing an annual household income of about £20 million, with scope for more. There is therefore an opportunity to grow the fishing economy back to former higher economic levels. The recreational opportunities also provide scope for health and wellbeing benefits, and therefore support our shared wellbeing goals.
Most of the actions previously taken to protect and restore fish populations, and many of those required in future, can lead to broader environmental restoration and enhancement outcomes – they therefore represent an important investment in the sustainable management of natural resources.

The Plan of Action
This document summarises the ongoing actions and the new actions needed to address the range of pressures affecting our fish populations. There is general agreement amongst partners and stakeholders on the identity and, in most cases, the nature of these pressures that – sometimes in isolation but often cumulatively - adversely impact upon our stocks. 
This is a summary paper – a more comprehensive technical annex is also available (REFERENCE WHEN AVAILABLE.

Action required
The wellbeing of our stocks depends on favourable conditions at sea and in our rivers. Together with our stakeholders, we have reviewed and identified the pressures damaging our stocks. It is clear that there is much to be done.
Marine environment
The marine life of salmon and sea trout begins when smolts leave the river to enter estuaries and, from there, coastal waters and the high seas. Through our national and international partnerships and engagement we have supported action to eliminate targeted fishing for salmonids at sea, however marine survival continues to fall.
We must maintain our engagement to better understand all elements contributing to mortality at sea, from predation in estuaries to pelagic fishery bycatch, and to damage to feeding areas arising from climate warming and intensive fishing for prey species, so that we may identify and prioritise any actions we can take to ameliorate these.
                Freshwater environment
The need for restoration of constraints to salmonid stocks in the freshwater environment is well understood. Work has been underway in Wales by NRW, its predecessors and by Afonydd Cymru and the family of rivers trusts, for several years. However, all parties agree that much remains to be done if we are to optimise river environments
Together we need to invest, and then maintain features such as fish passes and riparian zones, so that the maximum number of wild smolts may be sustained and migrate safely to sea. Repairing a century or more of inappropriate development cannot be achieved overnight.
It is also essential that water quality is protected through effective management and regulation of all factors that place it at risk, so that soils and other damaging materials arising from inappropriate land use, largely agricultural activities, do not enter rivers.

The two principal pressures that damage habitats and fish populations identified by all stakeholder groups are: -
·         the damage to many of our rivers arising from agricultural pollution; and

·         the unsustainable predation on impoverished juvenile salmonid populations by predatory birds.
NRW agrees with this, but also recognises other constraints to effective stock resilience and to effective management. The over-riding significance and implications of potential climate change in the marine and freshwater environments is clearly a major concern.
Broadscale actions are needed by NRW, Afonydd Cymru and the rivers trusts of Wales, and other key stakeholder groups if we are to secure the shared outcomes we require.
It is of course noteworthy that, whilst river habitat restoration delivers for fish, it also contributes to the wellbeing of other flora and fauna that depend on good quality rivers. It is therefore an important investment in the sustainability of our natural aquatic resources and as such should be a valuable initiative for a range of other stakeholders.

Delivering action
NRW will deploy resources available to it, whilst seeking further public resources to protect and restore aquatic habitats in order to deliver public benefits. However, it is essential that we work with all stakeholders and relevant partners to identify and build on shared interests so that investment from all sectors is maximised to deliver shared outcomes.
Much work is already underway, and it is anticipated that this Plan of Action will further raise the profile to encourage more timely action.
A broad range of work by NRW delivers outcomes that also bring benefits to our fish populations. For example, remediation of the legacy of some polluting metal mines will improve water quality in tens of kilometres of upland rivers.
A summary of the Plan is presented in tables within this document (Annex), and this will be more comprehensively set out in a separate technical report.
This Plan of Action will be reviewed and adopted by all parties in good time for implementation in April 2020.

Resources
Resources are critical if we are to make a difference, and NRW has been anxious to make a powerful case for investment by Welsh Government.
NRW will continue to commit the same staff and project resources to fisheries work in 2020/21, however, the full range of the challenge recognised in this Plan must also be addressed.

CONTENT TO BE CONFIRMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE





In the action tables below, we have indicated: -
o   the priority for each item;
o   the work items that will continue under current baseline funding to NRW;
o   the work elements to be considered within a 5-year ‘pipeline’ for resourcing, CONTENT TO BE CONFIRMED


Additionally, NRW has: -
·         secured funding of £6.8 million for a LIFE+ partnership project on the River Dee catchment, delivering significant benefits for migratory fish through: fish passes and barrier removals at 10 major sites; improved habitat connectivity; and improvements to land management and forestry practices. The project partners are Dwr Cymru Welsh Water, Snowdonia National Park and the Environment Agency.

·         agreed to be the lead partner in a National Lottery Heritage Fund project ‘Back from the Brink’ which, if successful, would include action to tackle to improve habitats including resolution of habitat connectivity and to inspire people to discover, value and act for Wales’ threatened species.

NRW is also currently engaged in a range of initiatives that can support our shared aspirations for healthy and sustainable fish populations: -
Fish Habitat Restoration Plans
Reports compiling catchment-scale information on physical constraints to fish population status. We intend to complete these for 33 rivers (principal salmon rivers and further main sea trout rivers) by March 2021. These will then represent an evidence base for seeking funding to deliver solutions. However they will only be worthwhile if the pressures they identify are resolved. When delivery is complete, then all known physical constraints to achieving Good Ecological Status will have been resolved.
Water Framework Directive (WFD) River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs)
The third WFD cycle (2021-2027) plans will have greater ambition of scale and approach, prioritising whole catchments for action. NRW will, following the requirements of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and the Environment (Wales) Act, adopt a place-based method to deliver SMNR (the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources) in a suite of Opportunity Catchments across Wales. In these catchments we will focus on supporting partnership delivery of multiple benefits for waterbodies and well-being. Our recommended list will represent the strongest mix of opportunities for integrated catchment management in each NRW operational area.
Area Statements and Opportunity Catchments (OC)
The Area Statements reference opportunities for catchment solutions. In Oct 2020 we will publish the list of OCs within the draft RBMP3 consultation. Marine and estuarine waterbodies will be included - a departure from the freshwater focus targeted waterbodies in RBMP2. Area Statements are to be live documents, and future iterations beyond March 2020 will refine the priorities for each catchment.
OCs are a vehicle to integrate RBMPs and Flood Risk Management Plans by featuring in both plans. Opportunities for nature-based solutions and natural flood risk management will exist in some OCs, and whilst specific projects won’t be detailed in the RBMPs and FRMPs such initiatives can be taken forward by place-based work programmes.

The outcomes we need
In short, we need to transform river quality so that it is optimised for fish survival and production. The fish saved by new fishing regulations must have the best chance of successful breeding and their progeny must survive to maximise smolt output. Predation is a natural phenomenon, but this must be sustainable and controlled when stocks are in very poor condition, as many are now.
The outcome of investment in many of the proposed works needs to be assessed in order to learn what works and what does not, and to demonstrate progress. Existing fish monitoring and assessment work will generally suffice, however some enhancement is required and will be included in this Plan.
It is important to note that successful optimisation in this way will deliver benefits for other business areas including Natura 2000 site condition, and WFD target outcomes.

Future partnership and resources
A high priority during 2020 will be the development of a costed 5-year investment plan to continue delivery of solutions to environmental pressures. This will cover, but not be restricted to, matters such as restoration of river habitats.
NRW cannot deliver on the ambition of this plan alone, and we therefore need to build on existing partnerships with Afonydd Cymru and their family of rivers trusts, fisheries bodies, fishery owners and water utilities amongst others.
However, we also need to identify and work with new partners who also have an interest, and a stake in our river environments and the flora and fauna they sustain. We will work to establish these relationships. There are strong private interests in a flourishing fisheries resource, and it is therefore right that relevant private funds should also consider contributing to the costs. 

Ownership of this Plan
The Plan will be reviewed annually by NRW and our valued partners, notably the Wales Fisheries Forum. This will be a fully transparent process that will be shared with all stakeholder groups and partners.




Annex
NOTE – GREEN SHADING REFERS TO EXPANDED OR NEW COMMITMENTS, ACTIONS SUBJECT TO RESOURCES
“PIPELINE” REFERS TO FUTURE WORKS – SUBJECT TO ANNUAL BUDGET PROVISION

Ref
BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
LEAD & PARTNERS
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
1
EVIDENCE




ISSUE: Understanding the status of stocks by delivery and regular review of cost-effective salmonid resource monitoring





1.1


1.2


1.3


1.4


1.5


1.6
Monitoring of salmonid stocks:

·         Maintain the Dee Salmonid Stock Assessment index monitoring programme;

·         Continue to monitor juvenile spatial distribution and temporal change for multiple uses;

·         Consider new whole-catchment census approach to juvenile census;

·         Consider future scope for fishery-independent stock assessments;

·         Review adult stock assessments – as committed in the NASCO Implementation Plan;

·         Maintain and seek opportunities to expand fish counter network to provide further appropriate index monitoring.



NRW


NRW


NRW


NRW


NRW; EA; CEFAS


NRW


Ongoing: NRW and EU - HIGH

Ongoing - HIGH


2020 - MEDIUM


2020 - MEDIUM


2020 – 2024 - HIGH

2020 – 2024 (implementation subject to resources) -MEDIUM





Ref
BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
LEAD & PARTNERS
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
2
EXPLOITATION MANAGEMENT




ISSUE: Maximise spawning escapement by ensuring exploitation does not damage stock recovery prospects



2.1



2.2


2.3



2.4



2.5
·         Undertake annual salmon and sea trout stock assessments to determine need for stock protection and scope for relaxing measures.

·         Carry out mid-term review of new rod and net fishing byelaws in Wales;

·         Carry out preparatory liaison, followed by statutory consultation into new rod fishing byelaws on the Severn in Wales;

·         Carry out review of rod fishing byelaws for the Wye and Usk prior to their expiry in December 2021;

·         Review cultural significance and socio-economics of net and rod fisheries in Wales and recommend new policy.

NRW



NRW


NRW; LFGs; RIVERS TRUST


NRW



NRW; WG
Ongoing - HIGH



2025 - HIGH


2020 – HIGH



2020 – HIGH



2020 – 2021
MEDIUM

Ref
BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
LEAD & PARTNERS
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
3
ENFORCEMENT




ISSUE: Effective enforcement of all legislation for fisheries



3.1
·         Carry out effective incident response in relation to prioritised pollution and fisheries matters.

NRW
Ongoing
HIGH
3.2
Protection of fish in vulnerable locations:
·         estuaries and coasts:
o   develop local work plans;
o   engage with WG marine fisheries on joint approach

·         In-river barriers and spawning sites:
o   Review risk associated with locations across Wales;
o   Review risk associated with disturbance to spawning fish caused by recreational access;
o   Prioritise patrols at sensitive times of year and river conditions.


NRW; WG




NRW

Ongoing
HIGH



2020
HIGH





Ongoing
HIGH
3.3
·         Enforcement of all fisheries byelaws

NRW
Ongoing
HIGH

3.4
Develop new resources for collection of intelligence on illegal threats to fish stocks:
·         Develop and implement training of all NRW field staff for expansion of intelligence gathering;

·         Reinforce partnership working with the EA on shared cross-border rivers;

·         Reinforce partnership working with WG on estuary and coastal enforcement;

·         Refine proposals for River Guardian initiative, identifying partners for catchment-based initiative.



NRW


NRW; EA


NRW; WG


NRW


2020 - HIGH


2020 - MEDIUM


2020 - HIGH


2020 - MEDIUM (implementation subject to resources)

Ref
BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
LEAD & PARTNERS
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
4
HABITAT CONSTRAINTS





ISSUE: Sub-optimum freshwater habitats – water quality, water quantity, agriculture, forestry, climate.




4.1
·         Complete suite of catchment-based Fish Habitat Restoration Plans.

NRW; AC
To be finalised in 2020 - HIGH

4.2

4.3


4.4




4.5


4.6





4.7
Reduce risk to water quality through:
·         Effective permitting and regulation;

·         Develop and implement improved agricultural regulation regime

·         Work with farmers, their representatives and all other relevant partners to protect river environments;

·         Application of best-practice approach to forest management

·         Contribute to WG Woodlands For Wales Strategy;




·         Contribute to peatland protection and restoration.

NRW

WG; NRW


NRW; FARMERS & Unions; AC



NRW


NRW; PRIVATE FORESTRY; W.




NRW; WG
ALL HIGH
Ongoing

SUBJECT TO WG ANNOUNCEMENT

DETAIL SUBJECT TO WG ANNOUNCEMENT


Ongoing


Ongoing – pipeline
future scale subject to resources

Ongoing – pipeline
future scale subject to resources


4.8







4.9









4.10
Improve physical habitat in rivers by:
·         Reducing barriers to river connectivity to restore river functioning and fish migration (upstream and downstream);



o   Seek new Fish Passage Regulation;

·         Restore and maintain effective riparian zone management to:
o   Exclude livestock from rivers
o   Intercept and reduce soil delivery to rivers;
o   Provide buffering from solar radiation (Keeping Rivers Cool);
o   Restore allochthonous carbon supply to upland oligotrophic streams.

·         Devolve Alternative Mitigation budgets to Afonydd Cymru and rivers trusts


NRW; AC





WG



AC; NRW
AC; NRW

AC; NRW




NRW; AC

All ongoing – PIPELINE, HIGH subject to resources


HIGH

ALL ONGOING PIPELINE, HIGH

Scale subject to resources





Ongoing
4.11
Deliver objectives under the new Dee LIFE+ project:
·         10 fish passage improvements

·         improved habitat connectivity

·         improvements to land management and forestry practices.


NRW; Dwr Cymru Welsh Water; Snowdonia National Park; Environment Agency

2020 – 2024
Funding: NRW, WG, EU
HIGH

4.12





4.13
Address impact of relict mines by:
·         Implementing the Metal Mines Strategy for Wales;




·         Delivering remediation of prioritised legacy metal mines.


NRW; WG





NRW;WG

15 year strategy – HIGH – pipeline
Subject to resources

PIPELINE- HIGH
4.14
Address issues affecting flows and hydrology:
·         Continue the Restoring Sustainable Abstraction Programme;

·         Implement review of time-limited abstraction licences;

·         Regulate previously exempt abstractions;

·         Secure environmental improvements through the water company price review process;

·         Continue effective engagement with water utilities on water resource and drought plans;

·         Ensure permitting of any hydropower schemes (including marine tidal energy) do not harm fish populations.


NRW


NRW


NRW

NRW; WATER UTILITIES


NRW

NRW

NRW – ongoing
HIGH

4.15





4.16




4.17
Consider adaptation to threats of climate change:
·         Continue to support existing PhD on climate effects on salmonids in freshwaters
o   Mapping of future safe thermal habitats across Wales;


·         Determine range of habitat adaptations to buffer streams from warming climate in summer and winter;


·         Implement appropriate riparian improvements and upland water retention initiatives.


CARDIFF UNIVERSITY; NRW



NRW; CARDIFF UNIVERSITY



NRW; AC

2018-2020
NRW; university studentship – HIGH


2021-2021
subject to resource - MEDIUM

Subject to resources - HIGH




Ref
BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
LEAD & PARTNERS
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
5
PREDATION BY FISH-EATING BIRDS (FEBs)





ISSUE: unsustainable depredation of depleted and vulnerable salmonid stocks by predatory birds.



5.1






5.2



5.3



5.4
Review position on predation on salmonids by:
·         Implementing the recommendations of the NRW external advisory group on FEBs leading to development of new policy on FEBs, concentrating on the balance of conservation designations and legal protections;

·         Maintain dialogue with public bodies in England and Scotland to benefit from emerging learning and practices regarding FEBs;

·         Support initiatives to map sensitive locations where predation occurs;


·         Deliver reduction in damaging impact of predation on depleted stocks of salmonids.

NRW AND RANGE OF PARTNERS



NRW; EA; MARINE SCOTLAND

NRW; rivers trusts


NRW; RIVERS TRUSTS


2020
HIGH




2020 - MEDIUM


2020 –
MEDIUM


Subject to outcomes above - HIGH

Ref.
Business requirements
Delivery bodies
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
6
MARINE PRESSURES





ISSUE: Major reduction in marine survival of salmon.



6.1
Maintain engagement with NASCO to:
·         ensure no resumption in marine harvest of salmon;

·         engage on future research initiatives eg climate effects; location of marine feeding areas and migration routes; bycatch of salmonids in commercial fisheries;

·         Deliver on commitments in the 5-year Implementation Plan.

NRW; CEFAS; EA; WG; DEFRA


NRW & partners



NRW; EA
Ongoing -
HIGH


Subject to future resources



Ongoing -
HIGH


6.2

6.3



6.4
Protect salmonid survival in estuaries and coastal waters to the 6-mile limit:
·         effective and precautionary permitting of developments, including ports, power stations and tidal energy proposals;

·         invest in research into:
o   salmonid behaviours in key coastal locations to facilitate permitting;
o   review Cefas summary of marine stressors affecting salmonids;
o   potential impact of climate effects on estuarine migrations.

NRW; WG

NRW



NRW; EA; WG; DEFRA

Ongoing - HIGH

Ongoing - HIGH



Subject to future resources - MEDIUM

6.5


6.6
Review potential marine exploitation of salmonids
·         adopt risk-based approach to any resumption of catch-and-kill fisheries;

·         assess scope for by-catch and illegal fishing of salmonids.


NRW


NRW; WG

Ongoing - HIGH


2020 - MEDIUM
6.6
Maintain role on Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, assessing the scope for environmental change to influence salmonids at sea.

NRW amongst multiple partners
Ongoing - MEDIUM

Ref
BUSINESS REQUIREMENT
LEAD & PARTNERS
DATES, RESOURCES & PRIORITIES
7
NEW AND EMERGING POTENTIAL PRESSURES





ISSUE: Need for vigilance to identify new pressures



7.1




7.2




7.3

·         Review and consider emerging factors that may damage salmonid populations, including impact of agricultural biocides and pharmaceuticals and their possible synergistic effects, and microplastics;

·         Review and consider emerging threats from fish diseases and parasites, including review of studies on Gyrodactylus salaris and Saproloegnia and the NRW and WG contingency plans;

·         Continue horizon-scanning work to identify new pressures.

NRW





NRW; WG




NRW
Ongoing - MEDIUM




2020 - MEDIUM



Ongoing - MEDIUM