Salmon netting secrets unveiled at Christchurch Harbour

An information board explaining the history of salmon and sea trout netting in Christchurch Harbour has gone on display at Mudeford Quay.

Salmon have been netted at Christchurch since the 12th Century when monks from the local Priory caught the highly-prized fish.

Traditional netting still takes place, but only sea trout are kept and sold. Any salmon caught by local netsmen are returned unharmed to safeguard stocks. Released fish continue their migration to their freshwater spawning grounds on either the River Stour or Hampshire Avon.

Salmon are a key species and one of the reasons the Hampshire Avon has been designated a Special Area of Conservation. This designation gives it one of the highest levels of protection under the EU Habitats Directive.

The new information board, which has been jointly funded by the Environment Agency and the Countryside Department of Dorset County Council, enables visitors to learn about the local tradition of netting and discover the amazing life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon.

Anyone visiting Mudeford Quay during June or July may be lucky enough to see the netsmen in action.

‘The Mudeford netsmen have been part of Dorset's heritage for hundreds of years. The information board is a welcome addition to Mudeford Quay and has already attracted favourable comments from visitors,' said Miranda Moss for the Environment Agency.

‘The Agency has a responsibility to maintain, improve and develop fisheries and enjoys a close working relationship with the netsmen. This project highlights the importance of working in partnership and engaging with the local community.'

All sea trout caught during the netting season are marked with brightly-coloured tags to help local retailers identify legally caught fish. The tagging scheme was set up by Wessex Salmon and Rivers Trust. Anyone trying to sell sea trout without tags should be reported to the Environment Agency on its free 24-hour hotline 0800 80 70 60.