COARSE anglers fear the Environment Agency are ploughing money they have raised into salmon fishing.

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Government figures released recently show that Atlantic salmon catches declined by 33 per cent in Scotland, with numbers down to their lowest levels since 1952.

There is increasing pressure to step up projects to save the iconic species. But that is not a prospect all coarse anglers welcome – if funding comes from rod licence coffers, at the expense of coarse fish efforts.

John Williams, secretary of mighty Birmingham AA said: “It is an issue I have been highlighting for years back to the days of the old National Rivers Authority and I doubt if it will ever change.

“Back then I calculated that only four per cent of licence money came from salmon but the amount spent on game fishing was disproportionately much higher and I doubt whether it will have changed much today.

“The EA boasts about how much it spends on fish passes and opening up the rivers for all fish but we know that this is almost all for the benefit of migratory fish like salmon and sea trout.

“And in my view much greater time is spent by staff checking for licences on game fishing rivers.

“I’ve just seen that £100,000 has been given by the EA to the Angling Trust for fishing projects but this is only licence fee money which we have paid being given back and the amount is paltry for the entire country.

“There are just too many vested interests in game fishing with the landed gentry to the fore, and sadly I can’t see it changing in my lifetime,” John added.

According to the latest EA’s annual report, 35,100 salmon licences (including day and concessionary) were sold in 2017, generating £1.56 million of the £22.29 million total income from anglers.

In that year, the EA stocked 406,506 salmon into the River Tyne alone but these were paid for by Northumberland Water. In comparison, they stocked 358,552 coarse fish across the whole of England.

And as we revealed, Natural Resources Wales, which took over from the Welsh EA, don’t stock a single coarse fish despite an income of £1.24 million from coarse anglers.

Despite a number of requests from Angler’s Mail over four months, the EA have not given any figures of how much rod licence income is actually spent each year on fishing for Atlantic salmon.

End of the Atlantic salmon?

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH has warned that Atlantic salmon are in danger of going extinct.

David, 92, said: “The very survival of this astonishing fish is at stake.

“In recent years the building of damns, overexploitation, the spread of diseases, farmed salmon escaping from their pens and the effects of climate change have affected salmon.

“All have contributed to a decline which threatens the future of the species and co-ordinated action is urgently needed to ensure their survival.”

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