NRW introduces Severn salmon emergency byelaw

An emergency byelaw to protect vulnerable salmon stocks on the River Severn is being introduced by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for 2021.

The byelaw, which makes catch and release for rod and line fishing compulsory on the Severn in Wales, was first introduced ahead of the 2020 season after stock figures revealed a significant reduction in salmon numbers pushing the river into the ‘probably at risk’ category..

The emergency byelaw comes into force on Monday (March 1, 2021).

Peter Gough, NRW’s Principal Fisheries Advisor, said:

 “The continued decline in salmon stock numbers means that every fish returned safely could contribute to improving the spawning population and 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 North Atlantic.
“Later this spring we hope to bring forward a public consultation in conjunction with the Environment Agency (EA) on measures to protect the Severn salmon stock for the next 10 years."

The emergency byelaw replicates the current level of protection for salmon introduced to English sections of the River Severn by the EA and ensures an integrated catchment approach to the management of migratory fish stocks.

Reducing the taking 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.

Peter added:

“We understand the impact this will have on fishermen, however only by taking immediate and robust action will our stocks return to sustainable levels.
“We want to work with the angling communities to protect our fish and fisheries for future generations to enjoy and the introduction of new controls will be a positive step in helping protect stock.”

A copy of the Emergency Byelaw and a guide to the Salmon seasons and method restrictions for all Welsh rivers can be found on the NRW web pages at Natural Resources Wales / Salmon open seasons and method restrictions