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POLICIES

FISHING FOR AMERICAN SIGNAL CRAYFISH IN THE RIVER BREDE BETWEEN SEDLESCOMBE BRIDGE AND THE END OF SEDLESCOMBE SPORTSFIELD, NOVEMBER 2008

POLICY ADOPTED BY SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL ON 11 NOVEMBER 2008 (Minute C08/09.79.1)

1. Sedlescombe Parish Council is the riparian owner of the southern half of the River Brede between Sedlescombe bridge and the end of Sedlescombe Sportsfield.

2. Application by e-mail (clerk@sedlescombe.org.uk) or post (The Parish Clerk, April Cottage, Church Road, Catsfield, East Sussex. TN33 9DP) may be made to the Parish Council for permission to set a maximum of four traps between Sedlescombe bridge and the eastern end of Sedlescombe Sportsfield for the capture of American Signal Crayfish for periods not exceeding 6 months or one year by persons residing in Sedlescombe.

3. At any one time, approval will be given to one Sedlescombe resident on production to the Parish Council of the relevant Environment Agency Licence.

4. Any person authorised by the Parish Council to set the traps must fully abide by the conditions imposed by the Environment Agency Licence particularly with regard to the size of the traps and display of identifying tags.

5. At the end of the licence period, the applicant will be required to report the number of American Signal Crayfish caught and details of any other creatures caught in the traps to the Parish Council.

6. A waiting list will be maintained and, on expiration of one licence, the next person on the list who has a licence will be given the necessary authorisation by the Parish Council.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Until the 1980s, native white-clawed crayfish were widespread in most chalk rivers across the British Isles. Since then, their population has suffered a devastating decline due to a virulent fungal disease carried by American Signal Crayfish which were introduced around this time. The disease - called crayfish plague - has no detrimental effect on the larger American species but wipes out the native British variety. The plague has an extensive hold in the south of England.

To date, no native white-clawed crayfish have been found in the River Brede despite Environment Agency studies being undertaken to look for them. However, there is a need to safeguard otters as an otter sighting has been reported in 2008 in the River Brede.

Legally (The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975), a licence to trap American Signal Crayfish in approved traps needs to be obtained from the Environment Agency for a specific stretch of water. Form FR2 is the relevant form. The licence includes operating conditions in accordance with the Crayfish Byelaws and Code. These include information about the size of the entrance, the fitting of otter guards if greater than 95mm (max size 200mm) and the use of plastic identifying tags.

Before trapping can commence, the licence holder should obtain permission from the landowner. The owner's name needs to be included on the application form and it will be added to an Environment Agency database. A landowner may ask the Environment Agency to with-hold permission to fish for American Signal Crayfish on his land but the applicant has a right of appeal.

A licence has been granted for the setting of four American Signal Crayfish traps between Sedlescombe and Brede bridges between 08/10/2008 and 08/04/2009.