Fishermen must throw back salmon caught in the River Severn

New rules mean fishermen will have to throw salmon caught in the River Severn back into the water.

Fishermen will no longer be able to keep salmon they catch in the River Severn
Fishermen will no longer be able to keep salmon they catch in the River Severn

The changes have come with the Environment Agency (EA) 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, according to the EA.

The new byelaws for the rod fishing in the River Severn 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, such as requiring use of barbless hooks and adding restrictions on certain baits.

The new byelaws also prohibit the operation of parts of the Severn Estuary commercial net fishery – such as the draft net and putcher fisheries.

They will require the release of all salmon caught by the lave nets in the estuary.

The number of available lave net licences will be maintained at a maximum of 22 through a new Net Limitation Order, to allow the “cultural method of fishing” to continue without impacting the fish stocks.

The byelaw introductions have been approved by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs following a period of consultation.

All cases put forward by the Environment Agency to propose byelaws are also reviewed by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).

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 fisherman 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, the introduction of catch and release will be a welcome boost to improve the chances for salmon to spawn successfully.”

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