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Byelaw bid to protect salmon in River Dart

THE Environment Agency has introduced an emergency byelaw for the River Dart to protect salmon from a fungal infection affecting stocks.
A ban has been made on all rod and line and net salmon fishing for the remainder of the season to protect the salmon stock which is currently deemed to be ‘at risk’.
It follows many reports the agency has received from members of the public and anglers since the end of April relating to dead or dying salmon and trout in the river with fungal infections.
The River Dart salmonid populations appear to have been particularly badly impacted in 2015 compared to other rivers in Devon in Cornwall, it was found.
The Environment Agency, through South West Rivers Association and the Dart Fisheries Association, organised a catchment-wide survey in July to gain a better understanding of the number of salmon and sea trout remaining in the river and those exhibiting signs of the disease.
Three salmon were observed, all showing signs of fungal infection, which the Dart Angling Association reports is the worst occurrence of disease on the river since the early 1970s.
Live fish samples have also been obtained from other affected rivers in Devon and sent for analysis and the results are expected shortly which will hopefully give more information about the disease affecting our rivers.
A spokesman from the environment agency said the River Dart salmon rod catches in 2013 and 2014 were low, with the catch in 2014 being the lowest ever recorded.
Fisheries surveys from 2014 also confirm that juvenile salmon stocks were lower than in previous years.
‘Given the current state of the salmon stock, and the additional impact of disease this year, it is considered essential to protect any remaining salmon so that as many as possible survive to spawn.’
The public are still being asked to report any sightings of diseased fish through the Environment Agency’s 24-hour incident hotline number 0800 807060.

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