Salter Speaks, Fishing yet again, 1 Dec 09, Venom And Sarcasm & recruitment of new fish

Martin Salter (Reading West, Labour)
I should like to thank our two Front-Bench spokesmen with all the venom and sarcasm I can muster for limiting Back-Bench contributions down to what is now more likely to be a shopping list than a speech; so I had better get on with it.
I praise the Minister and all concerned for the passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009-an excellent example of how well we can legislate.
I urge the recreational angling sector to participate in the excellent “Your Seas, Your Voice” campaign, which it was my privilege to launch the other week in Westminster. It seeks public and stakeholder involvement in the identification of these important marine conservation zones. It is important that all stakeholders contribute to ensuring that we have conservation zones in the right places for the right objectives.
The Minister will have heard me say this before, but I would like to press him on the new IFCAs-inshore fisheries and conservation authorities-and ensure that sea angling is properly represented on them, as it was woefully under-represented on the old sea fisheries committees.
I thank Bill Wiggin for his support for the Angling Trust. It is true that I launched it in January and that he was in the audience. I was pleased to see him there. For the first time, the Angling Trust has got its act together for the world of recreational angling and has actually produced a briefing for Members of Parliament-100 years too late, but a new first. Many of us will be thankful for that.
In exchanges on the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, the Minister gave a commitment to revisit the appalling decision of his predecessor on bass minimum landing sizes. I would like some timetable from him as to when that decision is to be reviewed. Alongside the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, we have finally seen the implementation of the salmon and freshwater fisheries review. New fish removal byelaws are being put in place and special measures are being taken to protect freshwater eels, which are fast becoming an endangered species. Separately, we have seen fish passage regulations and regulations in respect of hydropower to ensure that migrating fish can make their passage up river to the spawning grounds-an issue to which I shall shortly return.
Secondly, it was my privilege to participate in the launch of the Our Rivers campaign, with which Mr. Benyon was also involved. It was a joint initiative from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Angling Trust and the WWF. That campaign highlights the fact that we are likely to miss dramatically the target that we need to meet under the water framework directive, which is for the majority of our rivers to have a good ecological status. At present only 20 per cent. of them have that status. There has been severe criticism of the 11 regional management plans presented by the Environment Agency. There has been a lack of effective stakeholder engagement and a lack of ambition. Those points were teased out in an Adjournment debate initiated by Mr. Heald on 13 May.
I share part of the River Kennet with the hon. Member for Newbury. We have seen increased turbidity in the river as a result of the opening of the Kennet and Avon canal, increased abstraction as a result of increased demand, point source pollution, and a prevalence of invasive species such as signal crayfish, which are decimating fish stocks. Some crayfish will actually lie under the vent of a spawning fish, eating the eggs as they emerge and thus preventing all opportunities for the recruitment of new fish.
I was disappointed by Ofwat’s draft determination, and also by the marginally better final determination that was published last week. I made serious criticisms of Ofwat-particularly in respect of the Thames Water region-for failing to take account of the need for continuing increased investment in dealing with waste water and sewage and tackling leakage, and, incredibly, failing to address the necessity of examining the impacts of climate change. It is true that Ofwat has allowed some significant investment. The Thames Tideway tunnel will make a major contribution, and despite the half-witted opposition of people such as Shaun Bailey and the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham, Stephen Greenhalgh, I believe it will make a radical difference. However, I worry about whether there will be sufficient investment in the 300-odd smaller sewage works which have an impact on Thames tributaries, including the Kennet.
The current situation is ludicrous. On the one hand, we are seeking to ensure that migratory fish can run the rivers and reach the spawning grounds. On the other, Natural England talks of reintroducing the beaver, the one creature which, by creating dams, will ensure that all our legislation on fish passes becomes absolutely worthless. If we really have to introduce endangered species, why do we not take the DNA of Tyrannosaurus Rex or the wolf and bring them back to Britain? There must come a point at which reality impinges on what Natural England-
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Alan Haselhurst (Deputy Speaker)
Order. There must come another point as well.

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Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  

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