Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Catch & Release Salmon

Catching and releasing Salmon is of paramount importance if we are to enjoy the continued rejuvenation of stocks and secure sport for the future. The River Exe & Tributaries Association (RETA) have issued the following suggested code of conduct. These are wise words that can be applied to any and every river, not just the Exe and its tributaries.


“We are playing for high stakes, we must not only do this, but we must be seen to be doing it.”

ICES (The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) has advised NASCO (The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation), who in turn have advised DEFRA, who through the EA, will enforce severe restrictions on fishing in rivers who fail to meet their conservation targets. The Exe is one of those rivers that currently fails to meet its conservation targets. That is why we at RETA have agreed with the EA to actively promote a voluntary Code of Conduct for preserving salmon in the Rivers Exe and Barle by returning at least 60% of all fish and hopefully nearer 85% as other rivers manage to do. This will keep the Exe open and unfettered for the time being, but we must see this Code of Conduct through and be seen to be carrying it through. Our positive approach to voluntary catch and release has been important in securing the experimental season extension and Environment Agency support for the net buy-out. We understand that people want a fish for the table but please help us to help ourselves. The RETA Code of Conduct, approved at the AGM, is shown below. We urge you to exceed this and return as many as possible.

· At least 60% of salmon caught to be returned

· No more than one salmon over 27" (ie 8lbs) to be killed per season

· All salmon over 27" (ie 8lbs) to be returned after 16 August

· All coloured fish to be returned

Additional advice

Use barbless or de-barbed hooks. Use doubles not trebles. Handle fish very carefully and only if absolutely necessary. Do not tail fish. Use a knotless mesh net.

RETA is not only asking all anglers to co-operate with this Code of Conduct but we are actively pursuing many other avenues to return the salmon in the Exe to a state of abundance:-

· The River Exe Project, currently funded by ENPA, is pro-actively meeting farmers, coppicing bank-sides to reduce over-shading, fencing and identifying other areas for improved spawning

· The River Exe Project Officer - this fully employed position came about through RETA’s vision for the River Exe

· RETA has worked with the EA to secure estuary net buy-outs

· Fish The Exe is making fishing available to the public which is important locally, politically and socio-economically

· The RETA Hatchery has been started and is set to expand it’s operations quickly

If you are not a member yet please do join us - it only costs £20 and you can make a difference. To find out more please visit or call Ben Simpson (RETA membership) on 01392 861147

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