Byline: Dave Black
THE GOVERNMENT is being urged to justify an "irrational" decision to end the region's traditional salmon drift net fishery by 2022.
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith is seeking an urgent meeting with Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon, following last week's announcement by the Environment Agency of a new order confirming the phasing out of the fishery over the next decade.
In 1992 the Government began the process of closing the salmon and sea trout drift net fishery along the Northumberland coastline. The new North East Net Limitation Order will see the closure happen by 2022, and also involves phasing out the traditional T and J fixed net beach fishery.
Yesterday Sir Alan challenged Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, to provide more information in support of the decisions, and is seeking a meeting with Mr Benyon to voice his concerns.
He said: "I am asking the minister to tell us what assessment he made on the situation before this decision was reached. I am also speaking to local fishermen who will be affected by the changes.
"There is no rational basis for the decision to close this very small, and tightly-regulated, historic fishery, including the Boulmer T nets as well as the few cobles operating from Northumberland fishing villages.
"The minister's reference to weak stocks is completely wrong. The Coquet and other local rivers have stable and improving salmon stocks. I have asked for an urgent meeting with the minister, and I shall be asking whether he has overturned advice on this issue from the Environment Agency. Before Owen Paterson took over as Secretary of State, fishermen believed that the future of the fishery was not under threat."
In a written reply to Sir Alan, Mr Benyon said he has recently reviewed the future of the Northumberland salmon fisheries as part of the new legislation limiting net fishing for salmon and sea trout. …