Date: Tue, 26 May 2015 11:39:16 +0000

Dear Mr Marsh Smith,

 

I wrote to you (below) on 19 May but you made no reply. Instead you have used, very unprofessionally, the Wye and Usk Foundation Newsletter for your own personal, erroneous, and very public response. As you see it fit to respond, not to me, but publicly via this Wye and Usk Foundation facility you will find my response to you, sir, also on the widely read River Wye Gillies Association and Wye Salmon Association web pages so that the following corrections may appear in public too. You have my permission to send this also to all those who have received your Newsletter of 23 May 2015, and I request that you do so.

 

In your comments you firstly state you are not sure what my criticisms were about. You cannot therefore legitimately criticize them in your admitted, hopefully obtuse, ignorance.

 

The fish was suspected of possibly having UDN by me, the two fishery owners and the landowner’s keeper (those three latter persons having seen UDN before). It required laboratory analysis to determine whether this was the case or not. Whether affected by UDN or not that particular fish was rotting alive and unable to swim upstream. Plainly this was a dying fish, would not have survived to spawn (Stephen : it was being washed downstream), and the EA (quote Gamble) were “extremely grateful for the effort that Mr Roberts put in” ie. so that an analysis could take place. Your criticism that “the river is down a fish and the cost of EA staff time of the order of £5000 – £7000, more or less completely wasted” is therefore erroneous, not being based on reported fact or the EA’s stance, but your own admitted ignorant, and therefore biased, perception of the matter.

 

Your views are also at odds with the Wye Salmon Association (and the Environment Agency), who have clearly stated “the actions taken by Steve and the advice he received from local EA staff, in removing the diseased fish and pathogens contained from the river, appear sensible”, as well as the Chairman of the Local Fisheries Group who also clearly stated “I know if faced with a diseased fish I would kill and remove it from the river. It’s the kindest thing for the fish, and the safest course for the environment. Morally, it is the right thing to do.”

 

Furthermore you have stated publicly that I am “lucky not to have been prosecuted” by the Environment Agency, a statement so hugely erroneous when put up against the Environment Agency statement (quote Bainger), given upon my enquiry regarding this threat, that “By no means was the email advice a criticism of your actions, we are in fact very grateful that you brought this to our attention.”

 

No-one expects you, Mr Marsh Smith, to retract your personal views made public using the Wye and Usk Foundation Newsletter, or make an apology for your mistakes. Your erroneous views will stand, therefore, for what they are.

 

Regards,

Steve Roberts

West Berkshire

 

WUF Update 23 May 2015

Rather less encouraging has been the recent spat over the issue of what to do if a diseased fish is found. On the lower Wye in England an angler took it upon himself to catch and kill one and then berate the Environment Agency and just about everyone else for what, we are not quite sure.

The law of common sense and Wye byelaws say don’t kill fish. Its quite common to see the odd one especially in a cold, low water April such as we have had this year. As we have pointed out in previously years in similar circumstances, a high percentage of these fish recover when water temperature rises. They are often caught with healing or healed ulcers plainly visible. It is not UDN

Yesterday just such a recovered fish was caught and released at Spreadeagle. This survivor will breed a healthier stock. We would all agree that the EA and their Welsh counterpart, NRW need more than a nudge sometimes, but the extent to which this harangue continued showed an unnecessarily unpleasant side of anglers. The upshot is that the river is down a fish and the cost of EA staff time of the order of £5000 – £7000, more or less completely wasted when there are so many crucial issues to be sorted. EA advice can be seen here. That angler is lucky not to have been prosecuted.

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