New fishing restrictions come into force on River Severn

New restrictions on salmon fishing on the River Severn in Wales come into force today, in response to the decline in migratory salmon stocks.

Numbers are currently among the lowest on record and are below sustainable levels, with new byelaws now confirmed by the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, following a period of consultation.

The byelaws are part of NRW’s commitments to restore Welsh salmon and sea trout stocks, set out in the Salmon and Sea Trout Plan of Action.

These Byelaws are consistent with the approach already taken by the Environment Agency and ensure that salmon and sea trout on the River Severn receive the same level of protection in Wales as they do in England. An integrated catchment approach is essential to the management of migratory fish stocks.

The new byelaws come into force on 1 March, 2022, and will be in place for the next 10 years. The byelaws will improve the chances of salmon and sea trout surviving to reach their spawning streams, helping the recovery and the long-term sustainability of these iconic species.

The new River Severn byelaws require:

  • The mandatory release of all salmon and sea trout caught by rod and line,
  • Restrictions to angling fishing methods in order to improve the handling and survival of released salmon, including:
    • Ban on all bait fishing for salmon and sea trout
    • The mandatory use of barbless hooks
    • Restrictions on hook type, size, and their number

Ben Wilson, Principal Fisheries Advisor for Natural Resources Wales, said:

“We are committed to protecting our precious salmon stocks for future generations to enjoy. This is why our ‘Plan of Action’ requires us to take a wide range of steps to limit the many pressures that affect our salmon and sea trout stocks. Byelaws to improve fish survival are just one of those steps.

“We have continuing concerns around the numbers of salmon and sea trout returning to our rivers. Put simply, there are just not enough adult fish spawning to sustain stocks at their current levels or to prevent further decline.

“Just as the Severn is an iconic river, salmon and sea trout are iconic fish and we firmly believe that the new byelaws, along with a range of other measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality and improving habitats, are vital for the future of salmon and sea trout.

“It is also really important that we provide an integrated whole-catchment approach for our border rivers, and we are working with the EA to ensure we are consistent in our approach to managing our fish stocks.

“We continue to work with the fishing communities, and all those with a stake in our river environments to protect our fish and fisheries for future generations to enjoy. The byelaws will be a positive step in helping to achieve this.”

In addition to the Severn byelaws, NRW is introducing new byelaws to protect salmon and sea trout on the River Usk and the River Wye in Wales.

The Wye and Usk byelaws require:

River Wye

  • Mandatory catch and release of all salmon and sea trout
  • Revised end date for the salmon season so that it runs from 3 March to 17 October for the whole river and tributaries

River Usk

  • Mandatory catch and release fishing of all salmon
  • Mandatory catch and release of all sea trout caught before 1 May

The byelaws will be in place until 2029, to coincide with the end of the ‘All Wales’ and ‘Cross Border Rivers’ byelaws.  For more information, please visit https://naturalresources.wales/about-us/news-and-events/news/new-fishing-byelaws-come-into-force-on-the-severn-in-wales/