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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Rivers protected to save salmon
Leaping salmon
Salmon fishermen will be compensated for loss of earnings
South West net fishermen have agreed to stop fishing in three local rivers for the next 10 years in a bid to restore salmon stocks.

The agreement should help restore stocks of wild Atlantic salmon in the rivers Tamar, Tavy and Lynher.

Salmon populations in these rivers have fallen so much that it has sparked concern with the Environment Agency.

It is worried that not enough fish are reaching the upper stretches of the rivers to spawn and sustain numbers.

The average catch for the three rivers in 1994 was 700, but last year it was only 273.

It is hoped the initiative could see about 500 fish a year saved and netsmen will be compensated for lost earnings.

Rod fishing
Rod anglers are being encouraged to release fish back into the river

Rod anglers are also being encouraged to play their part by releasing their catches alive back into the water.

One fisherman on the River Tamar who is hanging up his nets, Barry Burrows, said he accepted the move.

"Mankind has put itself first in many instances.

"The salmon is such a beautiful fish and the time it's at sea and all the hundreds of miles it travels and then to arrive back at the river of its birth - you have always got to be in awe at this wonderful creature.

"Therefore you need to protect and look after it, not just for ourselves but for future generations."

Weir on the River Tamar
Not enough fish are reaching the upper stretches of rivers to spawn

But Mr Burrows said he was angry rod fishermen were getting a better deal.

"They have got to bring in measures which make it mandatory for salmon anglers to release their fish back into the river alive.

"What is the point of us stopping netting if those same fish are then being killed."

Simon Toms, from the Environment Agency, said the new measures would help to improve catch and release rates.

"Evidence we have got from other fisheries in the UK suggests that 90% of catch and release fish do survive and go on and spawn successfully."

The BBC's Polly Evans
"The next decade will tell if the step taken is big enough to make a difference"

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20 Oct 03  |  Science/Nature

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