An Emergency Byelaw to protect vulnerable salmon stocks on the River Severn is being introduced by Natural Resources Wales.
The move comes after the latest stock figures revealed a significant reduction in salmon numbers pushing the river into the ‘probably at risk’ category.
The byelaw, which comes into effect on 28th September 2019 makes catch and release for rod-caught salmon compulsory on the whole of the Severn in Wales.
Peter Gough, NRW’s Principal Fisheries Advisor, said:
“This has not been an easy decision to take but we are doing this because of the pressing need to protect wild salmon stocks which have declined to unsustainable population levels in many of our rivers.
“The decline in numbers means that every fish returned safely could contribute to improving the spawning population this autumn.
“Even relatively small numbers of fish are crucial to recover stocks in as short a time as possible.
“The decline is not just in Welsh or English rivers but throughout the whole of the range of salmon across the North Atlantic."
The Emergency Byelaws replicate the current level of protection for salmon introduced to English sections of the River Severn by the Environment Agency earlier this year, ensuring an integrated catchment approach to the management of migratory fish stocks.
Reducing the killing of salmon is only one part of NRW’s and the EA’s larger national programmes to protect salmon stocks.
Actions taken by both NRW, EA and their partners include removing barriers, improving water quality, minimising predation, implementing better agricultural practices and addressing unsustainable water abstractions.
“We understand the impact this will have on fishermen, however it is only by taking immediate and robust action that our stocks will have the opportunity for an early return to sustainable levels.
“We want to work with the angling communities to protect our fish and fisheries for future generations to enjoy. The introduction of new controls will be a positive step in helping protect the stock.”