Drift net fishermen fighting back against angling lobby Published: 14 February, 2011
DRIFT net fishermen in North East England are successfully fighting back against “sham conservation arguments” by angling interest groups, says the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.
The NFFO said drift net fishing has come under sustained pressure from the powerful and well connected angling lobby for over 30 years.
Most fishermen in Northumbria, the area most affected, would agree that it has survived the onslaught of the anglers pressures primarily because of the determined and resourceful efforts of the NFFO Salmon Committee, led by its chairman Derek Heselton.
The Federation continued: “Over three decades, the Committee has marshalled evidence, worked with scientists and Government officials, harried politicians, exposed distortions and faced down threats, to make the case that the North East drift net fishery is one of the best and closely managed fisheries in Europe.
“This, over the years has been a titanic struggle over shares of a scarce resource. Some of the richest and most powerful interests in the country have coveted the fish caught in one of the oldest coastal fisheries, to boost their recreational rod fisheries in the rivers.
The angling lobby succeeded in closing the salmon drift net fishery in Scottish waters in the 1960s.
“The Salmon Committee has fought back by repeatedly exposing the sham conservation arguments used by the anglers to try to force a closure of the drift net fishery. In fighting this uneven fight it has gathered impressive and sometimes unexpected allies to fight at his side.”
Undoubtedly the most damaging setback came, in 1992, when Tory Fisheries Minister John Selwyn Gummer, using the shield of a review of the fishery, announced that the drift net fishery would be phased out on the grounds that it was interceptory.
There were now only 14 drift net licences issued but last years season was a good one with prices for wild salmon receiving a premium. Along with the T and J net fisheries, the NFFO would continue to support these small fisheries” that have showed, over many years, a tenacity and fighting spirit that has ensured their survival against the odds.”