Natural Resources Wales Board Ignores 83% Consultation Response and Supports Mandatory Catch and Release of Salmon

Press release from The Angling Trust, for which we are most grateful. It would seem that NRW continue to treat anglers with contempt!    AT press release follows

Natural Resources Wales Board Ignores 83% Consultation Response and Supports Mandatory Catch and Release of Salmon

 Anglers reacted in dismay when the Board of Natural Resources Wales supported its executive’s proposals for imposition of mandatory 100% catch and release for salmon anglers throughout Wales at a meeting on January 18th. The Board will now recommend to Welsh Government that this is implemented with effect from the 2018 fishing season, ignoring the 83% of respondents to the public consultation who did not agree with the catch and release proposals.

Angling’s representative body, the Angling Trust, has written to Welsh Government urging it to adopt a voluntary approach to catch and release salmon angling in line with the Environment Agency in England and to address urgently the real reasons for the decline in salmon populations in Wales, which are pollution and unsustainable predation by cormorants and goosanders.

The Trust highlighted the fact that Welsh Government is currently taking a voluntary approach to the regulation of agricultural pollution, which is in stark contrast to the tough line on anglers, who are not responsible for the decline in stocks.  It also pointed out that several major pollution incidents in the past two years, which have killed far more salmon and sea trout than all the anglers in Wales catch in an entire year, have still not led to prosecutions by Natural Resources Wales.  The Angling Trust has in recent years repeatedly called for an urgent action plan to tackle pollution and unsustainable predation by cormorants and goosanders but very little has been done on either issue.

The NRW board acknowledged that it had lost the trust of the angling community and that 83% of respondents to the consultation were opposed to the catch and release proposals.  They were rightly concerned that the new rules would be unenforceable due to a loss of support from anglers, who act as the eyes and ears of NRW for offences on the riverbank.

The NRW Chair Diane McCrea stressed the need for urgent action to restore rivers to good health.  Many anglers feel that Welsh Government and NRW are seeking to destroy angling after recent proposals to open all rivers to canoes and other vessels, an abject failure to promote angling to tourists by Visit Wales and a failure by NRW to recognise the importance of angling to the economy and society of Wales.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “The blame for declining stocks of salmon and sea trout lies firmly at the door of Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Government for their mismanagement of the environment.  It is grossly unfair to make criminals of anglers wanting to take the occasional fish home for their family while they allow polluters to pour poisons into rivers on a regular basis and fail to prosecute serious offenders.  These proposals will drive away visiting anglers and destroy the amenity value of fishing for thousands of local anglers who have fished these rivers all their lives.  We demand urgent action to tackle pollution and unsustainable predation and urge Welsh Government to take a voluntary approach in line with the Environment Agency in England.”

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