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05/07/2013 - Angling Trust & Environment Agency Agree Plan for Severn SealJoint Statement

At a meeting in   Tewkesbury on Wednesday, the Angling Trust   and the Environment Agency   agreed a plan for managing the presence of a seal in the lower River Severn,   acknowledging that the seal is causing a localised impact on specimen fish   such as barbel and chub and is potentially impacting on salmon, shad and   lamprey in the Rivers Severn and Teme.

Angling's   representative body, the Angling Trust, has therefore agreed an action plan   with the statutory agency to address the short term problem of the seal in   the river and to identify longer-term solutions.

The   plan comprises the following:

  • The        Environment Agency recognises the actions fishery owners can take to        protect their fisheries. It has agreed to provide the necessary        authorisations for the British Divers Marine Life        Rescue to use a net in the river with the intention to        remove the seal humanely and return it to the marine environment where        it belongs. This approach will only be possible if a regular pattern of        behaviour can be established, and even then involves substantial        practical challenges.
  • If        this does not prove possible, then the Environment Agency has agreed to        support the Angling Trust, working with its member clubs and riparian        owners on the river, with trials of Audio Deterrent Devices (known as        'Scrammers'). This will occur if the seal is reported being present in a        particular location where fish congregate for any length of time, such        as below weirs and on spawning gravels, where it might be impacting on        fisheries.
  • The        Environment Agency has also agreed to work with Natural England        to seek the relevant permissions for the deployment of these devices by        trained volunteers from local angling clubs.
  • The        Angling Trust and Environment Agency have agreed to carry out research        into the feasibility of a permanent acoustic deterrent to prevent        further seals entering freshwater in future. This technique has been        deployed successfully in Sweden and Seattle on salmon rivers.
  • Subject        to such a deployment being found to be feasible on the River Severn, and        the existing seal leaving or being removed from the river, the        Environment Agency will seek to contribute funding and technical        assistance to the deployment of a permanent solution.
  • The        Angling Trust will hold a Regional Forum meeting in the autumn to        discuss this long term solution with its members and to launch any        fundraising initiative that might be required.

Anglers and   members of the public are urged to report all sightings of the seal to [email protected]   to help identify patterns of behaviour. There have been no reports of the   seal's movements for over a week.

Mark   Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said: "local anglers   have been very concerned about the impact of the seal on fish stocks and   fishing and we have received a large amount of correspondence from members on   this issue. We welcome the Environment Agency's recognition of the impact on   the specimen fishery and that its officers have agreed to work closely with   the angling community to identify workable short and long term   solutions."

Dafydd   Evans, Area Manager for the Environment Agency said: "We recognise the   concern by anglers of the impact on specimen fish and that fishery owners can   take action to protect their fishery. We will work closely with the angling   community to investigate practical solutions to deter predation by   seals"

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