North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called on the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs to respond to concerns expressed by Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru regarding access to waterways.
Questioning the Secretary in the Assembly Chamber, Mr Isherwood (pictured) highlighted the benefits that access to waterways brings to Wales, before outlining the concerns expressed the Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru regarding the recent Welsh Government Consultation, ‘Taking Forward Wales’ Sustainable Management of Natural Resources’.
He said: “The September 2017 update on the report ‘The Value to the Welsh Economy of Angling on Inland Fisheries in Wales’, collated by the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru in 2014, found that under the current arrangement for access to Welsh rivers, around 1,500 Welsh jobs and £45 million in household income is supported by angling on inland fisheries each year, that there are 1.7 million days fished on inland fisheries in Wales by licence holders, generating £104 million annually, and that the contribution to the Welsh economy of angling on inland fisheries in Wales must exceed over £125 million annually in Wales.
“In that context, how do you respond to the concern expressed by Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru that it would not be in the interest of the ecological integrity of such habitats to move to unfettered access under the proposed extended provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and that environmental protection is paramount when consideration is given to increased access to the natural resources of Wales, and especially the fragile ecosystems in and around rivers and lakes?”
The Secretary, Lesley Griffiths AM, responded: “I think your question lends me to say that it’s really important that you get the balance right, and that’s absolutely why we’ve consulted on such an important issue.”
Mr Isherwood added: “As both the last two National Assemblies have concluded, we need voluntary access arrangements dealt with at a local level rather a one size fits all approach imposed by the Welsh Government, recognising that a blanket approach could create conflict between users, have a negative economic impact on landowners and the fishing industry, and seriously damage the local environment."