IN A bid to conserve salmon stocks on the River Dee, a scheme has been launched to buy the fishing nets operating in the Dee Estuary which catch high numbers of fish.
The number of salmon in the Dee is declining as too few fish are returning upriver to spawn - and netting is a big part of the problem.
Tim Rosselli of the Bryn-y-Pys estate owns a stretch of the River Dee at Overton, and says the benefits of the Dee Nets Buy-Out will be far-reaching.
'Salmon numbers have declined dramatically since the 1970s and the nets buy-out is a significant step in reversing this.'
The Dee Nets comprise 16 draft nets operated from the bank in the tidal reaches, and four trammel nets operated from boats in the estuary.
The nets are operated under licences issued by the Environment Agency. The buy-out means netsmen are surrendering their licences in return for agreed compensation - £350,000 in total.
The end of estuary netting is seen as crucial to the survival of Dee salmon and sea trout - in low summer water nets can take almost all a returning school which destroys the stock's gene pool.
The buy-out will also bring about environmental and recreational plusses and, as the Dee has been designated an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), it will benefit from numerous conservation initiatives.
Fundraising by the Dee Fishery Association to finance the project has got off to a good start.
Contributions are being sought from owners of fishing rights, clubs and associations, angling syndicates and individual anglers.
Commerce, industry and Government departments are also being approached, together with charities which have helped with other net buy-outs.
The Welsh Assembly has passed legislation so that as many as possible of the licences can be bought out before July 2008, giving a three year window.
To see progress on the buy-out or to contribute to the fund, log on to www.deefisheryassociation.org.uk.