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30/12/10 - First of all, all here at the DAA nerve centre would like to wish our members a very happy, successful and fishy 2011.
From our point of view the year starts with bank maintenance sessions during the next couple of months. The first session will be on Sunday, meeting at Abbotsmead at 9am. Initially we will be concentrating on the stretch from Abbotsmead down, on the left bank. New members are particularly welcome. Robin Thorn will be in charge of the work again this year and tells us that work will be also needed at Hembury and Dartington and would welcome suggestions from members as to other venues.
It would be of great help if anyone unable to make Sundays but who could perhaps be able to help out mid week could get in touch as we are hoping to get a session going, possibly on wednesdays, depending on when people have time.
11/10/10 - At our last AGM it was suggested from the floor that we should be looking for some new and preferably younger blood to join the committee. To this end we would be glad to hear from any member who would like to participate in the running of the Association. Nominations for those wishing to stand for election close at the end of this month, with elections being held at the AGM. Please give it some thought. It would be good to see some healthy competition rather than see the same old faces go through unopposed each time!
Please remember that catch returns (on the back of your permission letter) for the season extension are also due by the end of October. You will also be receiving your annual catch return form shortly. This is a very busy time for Hon Sec and he should not have to spend time chasing members for late returns so please help by completing and returning yours as soon as possible.
As usual there is much to do by way of bank maintenance during the closed season. Much of the vegetation that was tamed vigorously a few years ago is now growing back and needs to be controlled. Robin Thorn will again be in charge of bank operations this year and is proposing to commence work earlier, in November as opposed to the usual New Year start. Dates and times will be posted here but in the meantime Robin would be grateful for anyone who wishes to join in to contact him so that he can get an idea of numbers to help with planning. It is possible that we will run a mid-week session for those who can't spare the time at weekends so please indicate if you would prefer that. Please email me and I will forward correspondence to Robin. It seems to be increasingly difficult to find volunteers to do this kind of work so please try to make the effort this time. It's a healthy and convivial way to spend a morning and for newer members a good way to get to know the river.
22/9/10 - Permission letters for fishing the season extension (see item below) have now been sent out. Please note that the conditions in the letter state 'fly only'. This came as something of a surprise to us as previous extensions have been subject to our existing method restrictions and therefore allowed spinning where appropriate on DAA water but with single barbless or de-barbed hooks only. After seeking clarification on this we are now assured by the EA that the conditions will be as for previous seasons.
14/9/10 - We have again been granted an extension to the salmon season of two weeks. It is anticipated that the rules will be the same as previously laid down:
Members will receive forms for this as soon as available.
21/8/10 - Congratulations to Luke and Rebecca who yesterday became the proud parents of a baby boy! We will watch his fishing career with interest.
2/8/10 - Members should note that the Marine and Coastal Access Act has removed the authority for anglers to require another angler to show his or her licence and give a name and address. Failure to produce a licence or give a valid address was an offence. This was a very useful tool for angling clubs and fisheries, in particular for fishery and club bailiffs or water-keepers. Apparently the reason is to do with "data protection", the ubiquitous reason now given to avoid giving any information to anyone. There is nothing to stop one asking to to see a licence but there is no longer any compulsion to respond. If you have good reason to believe that someone is fishing without a valid EA licence then you should report it to the EA. Anyone suspected poaching should be reported to the police.
29/6/10 - With the river having been so low there seems to have been little to report in the previous couple of months. The fungal infection, which was affecting many of the sea trout running the river earlier on and was probably exacerbated by the cold start to the season, seems now to have subsided and good numbers of clean school peel have been sighted upstream as well as running the fish ladder at TWP.
When the river is so low and water temperatures rather high the level of oxygenation of the water must be very low. With this in mind it would seem sensible at the moment not to fish on after catching one's bag limit of two per night (or one if only intending to keep one). Fish caught and released will not recover well in these conditions.
We have had no word of any salmon being caught so far. Obviously a fair amount of rain will be required to encourage a run.
Negotiations with MannPower, the developers of the proposed hydro scheme at Totnes Weir involving the DAA and DFA and the EA have been going well. We are very grateful for the help and advice we have received from Roger Furniss and Alan Butterworth of the Angling Trust and John Montague of the Salmon and Trout Association. Roger and John have also been present as some of the meetings. To date, MannPower have been able to accede to all the conditions we have asked for regarding the design of the scheme, provision of fish counters and access to the weir by our members and all parties seem happy with the results so far. Many thanks are due to Julian Sharpe who chairs the DAA sub-committee which oversees our interest in the scheme.
On another subject involving the Angling Trust nationally, the following press release has been received from Fish Legal, the former ACA now part of the Trust:
Polluters to talk to anglers before deal is done under new Civil Sanctions regime
After a long campaign, Fish Legal has welcomed the Environment Agency's announcement that anglers will be involved before deals are done with polluters.
Fish Legal believes that "Enforcement Undertakings" (EUs) - one of a raft of measures introduced under the Environmental Civil Sanctions Order 2010 - could lead to secretive agreements with polluters without angler involvement where rivers have been damaged by pollution.
"Civil Sanctions" provide an alternative to prosecution. Instead of paying a fine to the Treasury, polluters can put right the damage which they have caused - for instance - by restocking.
Most anglers would be supportive of such measures if they were drafted properly in the legislation by DEFRA and implemented fairly. However, Fish Legal has argued that the way EUs are described in the legislation could lead to agreements between polluters and regulators reached behind closed doors - without full angler involvement or publicity.
The Environment Agency announced at the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association conference on 27th June 2010 that it had now taken on-board the concerns of Fish Legal .
It has been confirmed that the Agency will require evidence from the polluter that it has consulted third parties affected by pollution, including angling clubs, before signing-off an undertaking by issuing a Certificate of Completion. It will also be made clear to polluters that the sanctions are not an alternative to civil claims made by those affected by environmental damage. Importantly, the content of all EUs will be actively published and the sanction will be subject to the Freedom of Information legislation.
"After over a year of letters and consultations, we felt as though we were up against a relentless DEFRA legislative steam-train." said Justin Neal, Head Solicitor at Fish Legal.
"However, the Agency now appears to have understood our well-founded objections at the way in which Enforcement Undertakings might be implemented."
"At first, DEFRA completely ignored our warnings and pushed on without making some very simple amendments to the Environmental Civil Sanctions Order. We then pressed the Agency to produce guidance on implementation to recognise our concerns. It appears that the Agency now agrees with us in confirming that it will require full participation of third parties which have been affected by pollutions - including affected angling interests.
This is not just a positive outcome for angling but also for the members of the public who want to keep all deals with polluters out in the open and available for scrutiny."
14/4/10 - It is intended on Friday 29th April to continue with work on our Woolston stream project. This will involve pinning down 'large woody debris' in the stream bed in strategic places in order to scour and grade gravel to improve spawning opportunity. Andy Thomas of the Wild Trout Trust will be in attendance at this 'practical visit' and will require our help. Would anyone who is available on that date and would like to help and learn more about the process please contact me.
24/3/10 - Thanks very much to those who turned out early on Sunday morning at Kilbury. This enabled the offending tree to be removed with the minimum of disruption.
18/3/10 - The bank maintenance party will be doing something slightly different this Sunday. There is a dead tree at Kilbury that Devon Highways require us to fell and remove. In order to avoid problems on the road work will commence at 6am. Help would be appreciated. If you intend to come along it would be a help if you let Hon Sec know. However, if you arrive unannounced you will still be welcome.
11/3/10 - A reminder that the Dart Fisheries Association AGM will be held tomorrow (12th March) at the Dartmoor Lodge Hotel, Ashburton at 6pm. All DAA members are welcome to attend. The first item will be a presentation by Pete Kibel of Kibel Consulting on the subject of the proposed hydro scheme at Totnes weir, a project that will affect the whole river.
A news item from the BBC web site: Sea trout subject of £1.8m study
8/3/10 - The following press release on the subject of hydro power was issued by the Angling Trust yesterday. It should be noted that the position set out here may not apply to the development we are facing at Totnes weir pool as it is hoped that in this case fish passage may well be improved. The Association is in the process of taking advice from the Trust and others as to how the proposed scheme might affect fish passage and/or or fishing in the weir pool, in the light of which we will take a view as to where we stand.
Anglers Fume as Regulator Bows to Hydropower
The Angling Trust has reacted angrily to the Environment Agency’s massive over-exaggeration of the amount of electricity that could be harnessed from English and Welsh Rivers and its failure to act to prevent hydropower developments damaging fragile fish stocks. The Trust is calling on its members to object to planning applications for new hydropower installations on the rivers they fish and has provided a guide to making an objection here.
The Agency recently commissioned a survey to map opportunities where run-of-river hydropower could be developed. This identified nearly 26,000 possibilities which their Consultants estimated had a “realistic” total potential of 580 MW, which is just 0.5% of the current demand for electricity. However, the Agency has chosen to promote in recent press statements the absolute maximum figure of three times this amount. Achievement of this amount would depend on using all the possible water flow at every possible site.
This is obviously both unattainable and unsustainable, and is yet another example of the Agency actively promoting an activity which will make no difference to our energy needs or to global warming, yet has the potential to result in irreparable damage to the Nation's fish stocks, including threatened species such as salmon, sea trout and eels.
The Angling Trust has also learnt that the Environment Agency is allegedly considering issuing “gagging orders” on its staff in the Fisheries Department to stop them giving their expert advice to local councils about how to mitigate the impact of hydro-electric plants on fish and objecting when these are not acceptable. Anglers were astounded to hear that the fisheries staff paid for with rod licence fees might be told not to do their job. The Agency is a statutory consultee on planning matters.
Furthermore, in a paper to the recent Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreational Advisory Committees (RFERACs), the Environment Agency implied that there may be schemes that will be approved that have ‘acceptable’ impacts on fish stocks. The Angling Trust believes that allowing these to be developed would be in contravention of the Environment Agency’s statutory duty of maintaining and improving fish populations and complying with the EU’s Water Framework Directive, which makes any deterioration of ecological status (including fish stocks) illegal.
The Angling Trust will be e-mailing all its members and encouraging them to object to any hydropower development on their rivers on the grounds of insufficient information being available and that they cause danger of unsustainable damage to fish populations. This applies to at least 95% of the planned developments the Angling Trust’s technical advisers have looked at. A list of developments is available on the Agency's website here.
The Angling Trust’s legal arm in England, Fish Legal, is investigating whether legal actions might be brought against the Environment Agency on behalf of its member riparian owners and clubs whose property rights are damaged by hydropower developments approved by the regulator.
Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd said:
“The Environment Agency is not only overstating the value of run-of-river hydropower it is also apparently stopping its own staff advising developers and planners how to reduce the impact of these developments on fish. The Angling Trust is exasperated with the Agency’s flagrant promotion of this damaging industry which is being developed at the expense of sustainable fisheries. We call on the nation’s anglers to stand up and be counted to defend their fish and their fishing by objecting to any schemes near where they fish today. Details of how to do this are on the Angling Trust’s web site.”
Angling Trust Technical Director Dr Alan Butterworth, who recently retired after a long career with the Agency, latterly as their national expert on the impacts of hydropower on fisheries, reacted angrily to the Agency's position:
“It is very clear that English and Welsh rivers are simply too small to make any difference to the Country's energy needs. But the Agency continues to encourage this type of ‘run-of-river’ hydropower which can do a massive amount of damage to the ecology of our rivers and block the migration of fish.
“Much of Europe and the United States have learnt this lesson the hard way and are dismantling even much larger schemes in order to save their rivers, yet the Agency continues to spread the red carpet for hydropower developers irrespective of the risk of ruining ours. A small amount of hydropower generation is perfectly possible, but it must only be allowed where it causes no damage to our fragile fish populations.”
2/3/10 - Bank maintenance is continuing at Staverton on Sunday.
27/2/10 - Another proposal for development adjacent to Totnes weirpool. This time on what was the Dairy Crest site. As is the case with the planned hydro project, this is just an early proposal at the moment. A .pdf document setting out the scheme can be found here: Atmos project
23/2/10 - Bank maintenance continues at Staverton on Sunday. Again, a good turnout would be appreciated as there is much to do.
17/2/10 - Bank maintenance will again take place at Staverton this Sunday, upstream of the weir. Volunteers were somewhat thin on the ground last week so please lend a hand if you can. Nigel will be bringing his boat!
12/2/10 - Work is shortly to continue on our Woolston stream improvement project with practical help from the Wild Trout Trust and finance from the EA. This phase of the work involves introducing strategically placed large woody debris (LWD) into the stream. The function of this is to scour and naturally sort gravels thereby providing more spawning opportunities for both resident and migratory fish. The LWD also provides habitat for invertebrates, which of course provide food for the fish. Provisionally, on either the 4th or 5th of March we will be on site selecting and pre-cutting timber for the job. Some help from members would be appreciated. Please contact me if you can spare some time on either of those days.
With the WTT in mind, please have a look at this years auction catalogue from them, with items large and small to interest the angler. If you can support the trust's work ( eg the Woolston Project) by bidding for an item, then so much the better.
WTT 2010 Auction Catalogue
9/2/10 - A presentation by the developers of the proposed Totnes hydro scheme has been arranged to give members the opportunity to hear about it and ask questions. This will take place at Victory Hall, Landscove, FRIDAY 26TH FEB 7.30pm. Doors open at 7pm.
5/2/10 - Venue for this Sunday's bank maintenance is Halliwells downstream of the weir.
Plans are afoot for a small hydro-generation scheme at Totnes weir.
Obviously, this has the potential to severely affect our fishing in the weir pool. However, the developers, who installed the scheme at the Dartmoor Country Park, appear keen to consult with us in order to minimise the effects on our fishery. Our access across the weir will be preserved. In fact, there are likely to be positives, such as the inclusion of a fish counter and an improved fish ladder. The developers have supplied us with impressions of their proposal but stress that that they are not yet the final proposal – really just the starting point for consultations with all stakeholders. The pictures are here.
1/2/10 - Best wishes to all Salmon members, whose season starts today. Although our spring run has been pretty poor for a few years now, springers do exist and if we don't try we'll never know...
28/1/10 - This Sunday's bank maintenance venue will be at Kilbury. Meet in the layby. Please try to come along.
18/1/10 - Bank maintenance next Sunday morning will be on the Church Commissioners water between Austin's Bridge and Nursery pool, from 9 am onwards.
7/1/10 - Bank maintenance this Sunday will take place on the Hood Barton stretch of the river (right hand bank). Suggested parking in the lay-by on the Riverford side, just above the bridge. Please mind the traffic if crossing the bridge on foot.
1/1/10 - Firstly, we wish all our members and friends a happy and successful 2010!
The first bank maintenance session is planned for this Sunday (3rd Jan). Please meet at Lower Style pool on the Church Commissioners side (true left bank). For those of you who have not been involved in the work in previous years I can do no better than to repeat the following:
Bank maintenance time is here again and, as always, there is much work to be done, so we need plenty of volunteers. Usually we meet on each Sunday morning for the first few weeks of the year and the work can be more or less physical, depending on the individual. In any case it is a good way of working off some of that Christmas pudding, good fun and, particularly for newer members, a good way of getting to know the river and an perhaps an opportunity to discuss tactics with other members.
Work starts at around 9am and continues for the morning. Please try to make it if you can.
Bank maintenance in progress
6/1/10 - The catch return statistics for the 2009 season are as follows:
13 members report catching salmon. Average weight 7.1lb
Total catch - 33. Of these, 24 were caught on the Church Commissioners Water, 2 in Totnes Weir Pool. All 100% of these fish were reported released. Those who have caught and returned Salmon are again to be congratulated for attaining such a high C&R percentage. Please keep it up for 2010.
(Salmon totals history: 2008 - 64 2007 - 43, 2006 - 39, 2005 - 41, 2004 - 83, 2003 - 29, 2002 - 21, 2001 - 40, 2000 - 53)
Best fish- J Sharpe est 12.5lb. 27/7 CC
First fish- C Glover est 8.5lb 29/4 CC
Highest total- D. Myhill - 18.
Number caught (average weight) per month- April=1 (8.5lb), May=1 (9.5lb), June=3 (9.5lb), July=12 (8.25lb), Aug=6 (5.3lb), Sept=9 (4.3lb), Oct=1 (8lb).
40 members report catching Sea Trout. Average weight- 2.25lb
Total catch - 320. Of these, 145 were caught at Totnes Weir Pool and 66 on the Church Commissioners Water. 116 fish or 36% reported released. 6 fish over 6lb were reported, compared to 4 in 2008.
(Sea trout totals history: 2008 - 160, 2007 - 228, 2006 - 260, 2005 - 302, 2004 - 440, 2003 - 399 2002 - 616, 2000 - 451)
Best fish- D.Grove est 8lb TWP
First fish- A Myall 2lb 14oz 12/4 TWP
Highest total- P Hetherington 53 fish
Number caught March=0, April=35, May=115, June=65, July=34, Aug=33, Sept=35
Total catch- 83. (2008 - 138, 2007 - 71)
Highest total D.Long - 29
Best fish - D McDonald 1lb 2oz
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