The Environment Agency is introducing restrictions on salmon fishing on the River Severn and Severn Estuary in response to the decline in migratory salmon stocks.
Numbers are currently among the lowest on record and are below sustainable levels.
They will prohibit the operation of parts of the Severn Estuary commercial net fishery such as the draft net and putcher fisheries (a traditional method for catching salmon, and other fish, that dates back to at least medieval times), and will require the release of all salmon caught by the lave nets in the estuary (A lave net is a “Y” shaped structure consisting of two arms which act as a frame work to the loosely hung net).
The number of available lave net licences will be maintained at a maximum of 22 through a new Net Limitation Order, to allow this cultural method of fishing to continue without impacting the fish stocks.
The new byelaws for the Severn rod fishery, will require mandatory catch and release of all salmon caught. They will also restrict fishing methods in order to improve the survival of released salmon.
The byelaw introductions have been approved by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs following a period of consultation.
Kevin Austin, Environment Agency’s Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment, said: “We are committed to protecting our precious salmon stocks for future generations to enjoy. This is why we are taking steps to limit pressures that contribute to salmon declines.
“We understand that the new byelaws may not be popular to some fishermen, and we are not making this decision lightly.
“We must act now before it’s too late and encourage all fishermen to play their part to ensure the next generation of anglers will be able to enjoy the benefits of sustainable salmon and sea trout fishing.”
“Fishing is only one of multiple factors that have led to the decline in salmon stocks in the Severn. However, we must do as much as we can to improve the chances for salmon to spawn successfully.
“In the recent years, the effects of long periods of low flow, increased temperatures and exceptional floods have all been having an impact on the Severn fish stocks.
“With the help of our local fishermen and angling community, the introduction of catch and release will be a welcome boost to improve the chances for salmon to spawn successfully.”