Government under fire over falling fish stocks in Welsh rivers
The Welsh Conservatives have accused the Welsh Government of a lacklustre approach to environmental protection following the publication of a new report which shows the number of salmon and sea trout in Welsh waters is the lowest since records began in the 1970s.
According to the figures published by National Resources Wales (NRW), 91% of Welsh salmon rivers are deemed as at risk of losing salmon populations altogether and salmon stocks are already so low, they could be at risk of failing to maintain sustainable salmon populations in the future.
NRW also classified 61% of sea trout rivers as at risk and 24% were deemed to probably be at risk.
Responding to the sharp decline in fish numbers, Janet Finch-Saunders, the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, called for the establishment of an Independent Office for Environmental Protection in Wales to hold public bodies to account for failing to protect the environment.
“Once again, we see the real effects of 23 years of Labour’s lacklustre approach to environmental protection on the wildlife in Wales,” she said.
“Rather than hollow words and empty rhetoric, we need decisive action from Labour ministers.
“It is long past time that ministers stood up and took responsibility for their failures and implemented an Independent Office for Environmental Protection in Wales.”
Natural Resources Wales says falling fish populations is not just a trend in Wales but across Europe and said more needs to be done to improve river water quality.
It also says every fish that reaches its spawning ground or is returned safely to the water after being caught could contribute to improving fish populations.
“These declines are replicated in most other countries across the North Atlantic, where populations have declined over the past few decades,” Principal fisheries officer Ben Wilson, said.
“This has been most evident for salmon, but recently a sharp decline in Welsh sea trout stocks has also occurred particularly in south and south west Wales.”
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