The following announcement has been made by the Environment Wales, following the years of effort that have been put into attempting to bring the Wye back to back to some semblance of its former self as the premier salmon river south of the Scottish boarder. This also serves as a timely warning to those anglers who continue to fail to take a balanced and more pragmatic approach to their salmon fishing: stocks are dwindling and the days of killing all salmon and sea trout taken are now long since passed. WE HAVE TO PRACTICE VOLUNTARY CATCH AND RELEASE and encourage our fellow anglers to do likewise. Some clubs are making good progress and meeting the targets set by the Agency: others are failing miserably often because a few greedy and selfish club members insist on killing all they catch. We are of the view that such anglers should be given fair warning to stop this slaughter and if they fail to comply then they should be banned from their clubs. We are concerned that if compulsory catch and release is imposed then the reduced number of anglers present on the salmon and sea trout rivers will make the poachers life so much easier and by so doing add to the depletion of salmon and sea trout stocks. The Campaign supports responsible and environmentally sustainable salmon angling and appeals to all salmon and sea trout anglers to do the same.

Compulsory catch and release on the Wye

Welsh Government and DEFRA ministers have given their approval for confirmation of the catch and release byelaws on the River Wye.  The byelaws are therefore duly confirmed and came into force on Saturday 23rd June.

The Environment Agency welcomes this decision.  Our application for confirmation of these byelaws was not taken lightly.  It was driven by the ongoing seriously depleted nature of the salmon stock in the River Wye.

We are aware that the majority of anglers have acted very responsibly over the past decade or so and have returned their fish in response to ongoing requests by the Environment Agency and the Wye and Usk Foundation.  However a minority of anglers has continued to kill fish, despite the depleted nature of the stocks, and it is for that reason that these byelaws have become essential.  The effect of the byelaws on stock abundance will be kept under review, and ministers have required a formal mid-term review of the effect of the new measures.  We hope that stock recovery will result in the end of this byelaw at the earliest opportunity.

We stress that alongside this action many other initiatives are underway to improve the environment of the River Wye and its fish populations including:-

  • The Agency has taken further action to strictly regulate the estuary fisheries that catch salmon destined for the River Wye.  This will reduce the number of salmon caught in the estuary by about 75%.
  • The Agency and its partner, the Wye and Usk Foundation, has invested in building fish passes and removing barriers to improve access for salmon and other fish to high quality habitats.  For example two Agency fish passage projects in the Monnow have made over 180km of previously inaccessible stream available.  
  • The Agency has facilitated major new funding streams in the Wye catchment and together with the Wye and Usk Foundation will undertake more work to restore damaged habitats and to improve water quality.
  • The Agency has supported, as key partner, the Wye and Usk Foundation with funding, technical support and advice since 1998.

A healthy salmon population in the river will not only benefit local anglers, but will also benefit local economies by attracting visiting anglers from across the country.  Fishing in all of its forms is worth over £150m to the Welsh economy.

Under the byelaws:-
  • all salmon and sea trout caught must be returned to the river
  • the byelaws will be in place for 10 years
  • there will be a formal mid-term review

Peter Gough

Senior Technical Specialist
Environment Agency Wales
Hadnock Road
NP25 3NQ
external line:  02920 582749
mobile: 0790 9997720

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