Friday 24th June, 2011 could be a day that turned the tide for English south coast sea trout with the launch of a coordinated action plan from the Environment Agency, the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Wild Trout Trust working together with local river trusts, landowners and other interested parties and individuals to improve sea trout stocks in the region.
The launch included an introduction from Shaun Leonard – Director of the Wild Trout Trust and was followed by presentations from Lawrence Talks – Fisheries Specialist, Environment Agency, Howard Davidson – SE Director, Environment Agency, Andy Thomas – Southern Conservation Officer, Wild Trout Trust and Ivor Llewelyn – Director, Atlantic Salmon Trust (England & Wales) covering various topics such as the practical, scientific and regulatory aspects of the plan and how they can be addressed and by whom. This was followed by an open discussion during which the panel were questioned from the floor about the action plan.
The full action plan document runs to 38 pages and can be opened by clicking here. As the opening statement sets outs;
“The key word here is ‘action’. The South Coast Sea Trout Action Plan aims to deliver on the ground habitat improvement to rivers and streams that are critical for sea trout spawning and juvenile life stages. We will address obstructions to fish passage, improve river habitat, protect vulnerable spawning grounds and learn more about behaviour, lifecycle and genetics of this enigmatic species and in doing so contribute to River Basin Management Plan delivery under the Water Framework Directive. We will work with fishing clubs, businesses, landowners, local authorities and NGOs to conserve this iconic species for future generations.
- Sea trout are an iconic species and a barometer of the health of our rivers
- There is huge potential for improving sea trout along the south coast
- Together we need to overcome obstructions to fish passage, protect and improve critical spawning tributaries, safeguard river flows and water quality, counter illegal fishing, mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve our understanding of sea trout
- There is a need to raise the profile of sea trout
- We invite you to get involved”
This last point is particularly important for those of us who want to get involved and the easiest and most direct way to help is to join your local rivers trust and get your wellies wet helping with their work parties and surveying visits.
The action plan area stretches from Hampshire and the Isle of White, through Sussex and into Kent which covers three main rivers trust organisations currently – The Wessex Salmon & Rivers Trust, The Arun & Rother Rivers Trust (just forming currently) and The Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust (recently combined – see SOCS website for contact details).
As Ivor Llewelyn, Director of the Atlantic Salmon Trust (England & Wales) succinctly summed up during his presentation, compared to the much studied Atlantic salmon “there is a lot we know we don’t know about south coast sea trout” such as where they go at sea, the importance of estuaries and inshore waters, triggers for migration and the critical flow requirements for different life stages of the fish, but perhaps even more alarming is “what we don’t know we don’t know!”