AN EMERGENCY bylaw to protect salmon in the River Severn has been extended after research revealed a significant reduction in salmon stock levels.
The bylaw, which was originally introduced on June 15, 2019, will now continue until December 15 2020.
As a result, fishermen must abide by a strict set of guidelines.
Rod and line fishing, and lave net fishing, must be undertaken on a catch and release basis only. And draft net and putcher fishing in the Severn estuary are prohibited.
The move to protect this salmon population came after last year’s figures on the stock levels for the Severn, as well as the Wye and Usk, showed numbers were extremely low. Salmon from the Severn estuary migrate to the Wye and Usk.
Figures this year show salmon numbers remain low, so every fish returned safely could contribute to improving the spawning population this autumn.
Reducing the taking of salmon is only one part of the Environment Agency’s larger national programme to protect salmon stocks. They are also removing barriers, improving water quality, implementing better agricultural practices and addressing unsustainable water abstractions.
The decline in the numbers of wild salmon, seen not just in English rivers but throughout the North Atlantic, is a major concern and the Environment Agency is determined to protect the future of this important species.
David Hudson, environment manager for Gloucestershire said: “We are concerned that the number of returning adult salmon continues to decline despite the current protection measures we have in place.
“We will closely monitor salmon stocks throughout this year, with a view to introducing more long term protection bylaws if required following consultation, in the hope of increasing the numbers of this iconic species.
“Fishing is only one of a number of factors that have led to the fall in salmon stocks in the Severn; environmental factors at critical times in the salmon’s life cycle, such as recent floods and warm winters, also play a part.
“We understand the concerns of fishermen, but only by the use of immediate and robust action, with cooperation from others, can we prevent the collapse of salmon stocks in the Severn in the future.
“Flooding earlier in the year and the coronavirus pandemic has prevented the Environment Agency from carrying out much of its planned engagement with fishermen, but we will look to do that as soon as practical.”