Anglers are being invited to have their say on the future of the River Ribble’s salmon population.

The current Net Limitation Order for the Ribble salmon and sea trout commercial net fishery is due to expire in 2007. Before the Environment Agency applies to renew the order, it is reviewing its terms to make sure it can balance the needs of the environment, netsmen and anglers.

Anglers can put forward their views on 16 May at an open meeting in Preston organised by the Environment Agency in conjunction with the Ribble and Lancashire Fisheries Consultative Associations. The meeting is taking place at Swallow Hotel, Samlesbury, at 7.30pm.

The Environment Agency has carried out an assessment of the current stock status for the Ribble’s salmon population. This revealed that the current management measures were insufficient to maintain a sustainable population.

An extended period of consultation has already taken place with representatives of the Ribble’s rod and net fishery about potential additional management measures. A package of measures has now been developed and presented to the North West‘s Regional Fisheries Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee.

For the rod fishery these include a proposed two salmon bag limit and a pilot carcass tagging scheme for the Ribble. While for the net fishery a reducing net limitation is being proposed.

Andy Brown, Fisheries Team Leader, said: ” Before we make our initial submission to DEFRA we are seeking the views of a larger number of the Ribble’s salmon anglers. This meeting is an excellent opportunity for anglers to voice their opinions about our proposals for managing the salmon population over the next 10 years.”

Net Limitation Orders restrict the number of net licences the Environment Agency is able to issue. The current order allows a maximum of six net licences to be issued for the River Ribble.

Andy added: “It is our responsibility to protect and manage salmon stocks and Net Limitation Orders are just one of the ways we do that. We have to make sure stocks are protected, both for conservation reasons and for the enjoyment of this and future generations.”