A NATIONAL body which represents commercial fishermen is threatening to take legal action against Government moves which it claims will kill off salmon fishing in the region.
The National Fishing Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation (NFFO) has said it will be doing all in its power to overturn an order newly agreed by the Environment Agency which will close the region’s drift net fishery of salmon and trout.
A spokesman for the NFFO in the North East last night said the region faced “losing an entire way of life”.
In 1992, the government’s fisheries minister made an order which began the phasing out of the drift net fishery for salmon on the Northumberland coast.
Its members in the region say they have been fighting for decades for the future of their industry.
Now, the environment agency has confirmed a new order which will see the closure of the drift net fishery in the North East by 2022, and phase out the traditional T and J net beach fishery.
The order prohibits fishermen applying for new licences, allowing them only to be passed down through families.
In a statement, the NFFO has said it will be doing “all in its power, up to and including legal action, to reverse this disgraceful decision”.
Last night, the chairman of its committee in the North East, Cullercoats-based Dennis Clark told how there are only 14 drift net licences and 70 T and J net licences on the coast from Northumberland down to Yorkshire.
Mr Clark, who with son Peter are sixth and seventh generation salmon fishermen, said: “We are losing an entire way of life on the North East coast. To say we are not very happy is an understatement.”
He argued there is no conservation case for the order, claiming the River Tyne is now England’s biggest salmon river and that the region’s others also have good stocks, which are supplied by a hatchery at Kielder.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We are committed to conserving salmon and sea trout stocks. Fisheries such as the North East net fishery exploit fish from different rivers making it difficult to protect the weakest river stocks.
“The Environment Agency will close the drift net fishery in September 2022.
“We will continue to work with the Environment Agency to look at the potential for maintaining a salmon and sea trout fishery in the North East, after that date, if it can be shown to be sustainable.”