New fishing byelaws come into force on the River Severn in Wales
From next week, anglers on the River Severn in Wales must return salmon and sea trout to the water due to a decline in migratory salmon stock.
According to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) the introduction of restrictions is necessary because the numbers of salmon in the River Severn have fallen below sustainable levels and are currently among the lowest on record.
The new byelaws have been confirmed by the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, following a period of consultation.
They come into force on 1 March along with additional measures for the River Wye and the River Usk, and will improve the chances of salmon and sea trout surviving to reach their spawning streams, helping the recovery and the long-term sustainability of these species.
Emphasising the need for an integrated catchment approach to the management of migratory fish stocks, the move is in line with the approach already being taken by the Environment Agency in England.
The restrictions will require the mandatory release of all salmon and sea trout caught by rod and line and in order to improve the handling and survival of released salmon, changes to angling fishing methods will include a ban on all bait fishing for salmon and sea trout, and the mandatory use of barbless hooks with restrictions on hook type, size, and their number.
Ben Wilson, Principal Fisheries Advisor for Natural Resources Wales (NRW), said: “We are committed to protecting our precious salmon stocks for future generations to enjoy. This is why our ‘Plan of Action’ requires us to take a wide range of steps to limit the many pressures that affect our salmon and sea trout stocks. Byelaws to improve fish survival are just one of those steps.
“We have continuing concerns around the numbers of salmon and sea trout returning to our rivers. Put simply, there are just not enough adult fish spawning to sustain stocks at their current levels or to prevent further decline.
“Just as the Severn is an iconic river, salmon and sea trout are iconic fish and we firmly believe that the new byelaws, along with a range of other measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality and improving habitats, are vital for the future of salmon and sea trout.
“It is also really important that we provide an integrated whole-catchment approach for our border rivers, and we are working with the EA to ensure we are consistent in our approach to managing our fish stocks.
“We continue to work with the fishing communities, and all those with a stake in our river environments to protect our fish and fisheries for future generations to enjoy. The byelaws will be a positive step in helping to achieve this.”
As well as the Severn byelaws, NRW is introducing new byelaws to protect salmon and sea trout on the River Usk and the River Wye in Wales.
The additional Wye byelaws require the mandatory catch and release of all salmon and sea trout and a revised end date for the salmon season so that it runs from 3 March to 17 October for the whole river and tributaries
On the River Usk will also see a mandatory catch and release fishing of all salmon, and the mandatory catch and release of all sea trout caught before 1 May
The byelaws will be in place until 2029, to coincide with the end of the ‘All Wales’ and ‘Cross Border Rivers’ byelaws.
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