Trout and Salmon Magazine against compulsory C&R

Andrew Flitcorft, the editor of Trout and Salmon Magazine has kindly allowed us to publish his Editors Letter as included in the September issue. Thank you Andrew and Trout and Salmon Magazine

His view:

“Anglers are once again being used as political pawns by authorities
who haven’t got the balls to deal with the big issues”

To read the full letter click on this link    Editors letter

Wales, the first country in the world to leave a species to become extinct? In this case salmonids.

NRW have replied to the FOI request by saying they did not make any such comment. 4/10/17

This a a quote taken directly from a letter produced by Angling Trust and Afonydd Cymru and sent to Lesley Griffiths A.M. Cabinet Secretary. We are awaiting a response to a freedom of information request for a copy of the document proffering this advice to the Welsh Government. We will keep you posted.

“Our recent meeting with your officials revealed nothing of substance nor any future plans or direction, save to learn that NRW had advised that climate change would bring a premature end to our migratory fisheries, thus making them not worthy of further attention”

Salmon trapped in hydro turbine

Chris, thought you would be interested to see this video on you tube. NRW have been advised that this happens and have been asked to reconsider their fish pass designs on hydro schemes. We await a response.

Click here to see video

Welsh Government Consultation: canoeists again!

The Welsh Government is consulting on

Taking forward Wales’ sustainable management of natural resources

This consultation includes

Page 38. Proposal 11

To amend or revoke the following list of restrictions on access, provided in Schedule 2(1) of the CRoW Act 2000:

(b) uses a vessel or sailboard on any non-tidal water;

(c) has with him any animal other than a dog;

(i) bathes in any non-tidal water; and

(s) engages in any organised games, or in camping , hang-gliding or para-gliding.

ONCE AGAIN THERE IS YET ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO FACILITATE THE FREE ACCESS OF CANOEISTS TO OUR RIVERS. It is important that as many of you as possible respond to this consultation, even if only to this issue. No need to fill in the whole document, just the question relation to free access to waterways, which includes rivers.

Link to consultation page at Welsh Government website click here

Here you can download the documentation     Consultation document   from this site.

If you wiah to read the document and respond on line, then this is the link click here




Mark Isherwood A.M. speaks out for anglers: again


Wednesday June 7th 2017




Following the publication of a report highlighting a “serious decline in fishing in Wales”, North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has called for a Welsh Government Statement on the protection of fisheries in Wales.


Speaking in this week’s Business Statement, Mr Isherwood said issues regarding the failure to protect fisheries in Wales, in consequence of Welsh Government policy, were covered in the national angling paper ‘The Angler’s Mail’.


He said:  


“This highlighted a serious decline in fishing in Wales. It said that the Welsh equivalent of the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, had been branded no longer fit for purpose by fishing and environmental groups, and that of the 6,886 reports of water pollution that Natural Resources Wales received between 2013 and 2016, only 60 per cent were investigated, and there were just 41 prosecutions and 10 civil sanctions, amounting to less than 1 per cent of incidents reported.


“It said ‘There has been a steep decline in fish numbers in recent years in Wales.The regulator needs to take a much tougher stance but…The organisation is unwieldy, too bureaucratic and they don’t seem to have a strategy’.


“They did say that they were meeting with officials in the Welsh Assembly, by which I presume they mean the Welsh Government, to demand action, concluding that there’s been a national failure of Welsh Government to tackle the problem. Given particularly their reference to Welsh Government in the article, and their reference to a meeting with officials, could we have a statement to bring us up to date not only on what was concluded, but what actions, if any, have resulted?”


The Leader of the House, Jane Hutt, told Mr Isherwood “it would be helpful if you wrote to the Cabinet Secretary on this matter as her officials are already engaged in that discussion,”


It is with great reluctance that I add this item from the Anglers Mail. The fisheries team at EAW work hard and are enthusiastic and  dedicated to their work: there are just too few of them. Our environment is far too important to be neglected!

Please click on the link below to see the Anglers Mail article.

Anglers Mail May 9th 2017

Are NRW to reconsider hatchery closure?

The .pdf document below is a copy of a letter written by Mr John Roe, Chairman of the Dee Fisheries Association, to Mr Tim Jones, Executive Director of Operations North and Mid Wales. The letter includes an attachment, written by Mr Chris White, setting out the arguments against the closure and the basis of his conclusions.

Well worth a read, just click on the link below.

Letter to Tim Jones

Hatchery closures: we are appealing for a NRW rethink.


NRW's briefing note - Catch and release the latest news.

The briefing note issued by NRW to the Local Fisheries Advisory Groups clarifying the current position regarding catch and release, can be seen by clicking on the link below. Worth a read

Briefing update

Angling Trust: the definative answer to the rights of paddlers.

Members’ News

Welcome to your new-look newsletter

Thursday, 26th January, 2017

QC’s legal advice proves there is no general public

right to navigate non-tidal rivers in England and Wales


Fish Legal and the Angling Trust have been working very hard for many years to resolve the ongoing problems with widespread unlawful canoeing. This week we published three opinions from a QC which confirm that the law is entirely clear that there is no general public right of navigation in England and Wales, and we reported on the conclusion of a legal case against a canoeist in North Wales who refused to respect the terms of a very reasonable access agreement.


We live in hope that this new information will reduce trespass onto our members’ waters and that the canoeing governing bodies will now start supporting voluntary access agreements that allow more canoeing on rivers, but without damaging fish and fishing. ▶︎ Read more


Help protect fishing and get the chance to win a day’s shooting for you and 7 pals worth £15,000

The Angling Trust & Fish Legal need your support for our campaigns and legal action to protect fish and fishing. For just £100, you can have a very good chance of winning a day’s shooting for you and up to 7 other guns at the prestigious Hurdcott/Compton Chamberlayne shoot in Wiltshire, complete with a fine lunch served at Hurdcott House.

Tickets are strictly limited to 300, so the odds are good, particularly if everyone in your team buys a ticket! Tickets must be sold by 31st March 2017 at the latest but might sell out sooner, so enter now to avoid missing out.

No, Ministers! You’re wrong

English and Welsh Fisheries Ministers have been challenged by the Angling Trust to correct misleading statements they published regarding targeted netting for threatened stocks of sea bass, which they said would still be legal in 2017. In fact, EU ministers have ruled that only “unavoidable by-catches” are legal.

Read more

Fundraising Dinner, Wednesday 3rd May

Following the success of last year’s event, we are holding another dinner on Wednesday, 3rd May at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London to raise money for Fishing For Schools, Casting For Recovery and the Angling Trust & Fish Legal’s campaigns to protect fisheries. There will be fantastic food and wine, a very brief auction of high value items and a silent auction of more affordable lots with ipads on the table.


A table of 10 costs £3,000, and individual tickets are £300.  Whether you are coming alone, with your partner, or with a group of 9 friends, please book soon to avoid missing out!  Please also let us know if you can donate a suitable lot to help us raise funds for these great causes. To book tickets or donate something for the auction, please contact Pippa Chambers on 020 7840 9258 or

Want to join our

volunteer bailiffs?

Our dedicated army of volunteers are making a real difference in the fight against illegal fishing and fish theft. The Voluntary Bailiff Service acts as the “eyes and ears” on riverbanks and lakes and work closely with the Environment Agency, police and other partners.

The VBS is open for new recruits and will be holding induction and training days in spring. Anyone interested in joining the VBS should email


Please sign up

for Angling Alert

Want to receive alerts about fish poaching and theft, fisheries crime and fisheries enforcement from the Angling Trust, Environment Agency, Police and Cefas?

Sign up for free to

Angling Trust Alert

Crucian waters: updated list

There’s a new list of crucian waters available on the Angling Trust website. It’s been compiled by the National Crucian Conservation Project who have graded the waters according to how they have been managed. If you’re aware of other true crucian waters not on the list email Angling Trust Campaigns Officer James Champkin at


Environmental flaw in Hendry report

The Government’s Hendry report – which gave a cautious backing for the financial case for tidal lagoons – has failed to examine the environmental impact of these colossal developments or to consider alternative technologies to generate tidal power which are currently being developed. Natural Resources Wales has already said the proposed Swansea Bay tidal lagoon could have a major impact on fish, such as salmon and sea trout.


Hydro application ‘falls’ from favour

Fish Legal – working with the ‘Save the Conwy’ group on behalf of several member clubs – celebrated the refusal of a controversial hydroelectric power scheme in October. The scheme for a small scale hydro unit at the iconic Conwy Falls and Fairy Glen was a re-submission of an earlier proposal and led to conservationists, canoeists, walkers and anglers uniting in opposing the proposals put before the Snowdonia National Park Authority

This victory was reinforced by Natural Resources Wales who last month refused the abstraction licence necessary for such a scheme. The decision was a welcome Christmas present to our member clubs with whom we had fought to persuade the regulators against authorising such a disproportionately invasive project.

Testwood abstraction reaches crunch point

Southern Water’s longstanding plans to build a pipeline to transfer potentially large quantities of water from the lower River Test to the lower River Itchen have come to a head.

Licence change applications on both rivers are now being reviewed by the Environment Agency (Testwood/Test) and Secretary of State for Environment (Otterbourne/Itchen), and a planning application for the pipeline is due to be submitted at the end of February. In the meantime, Angling Trust and Fish Legal are meeting the company to raise concerns on behalf of our members who would be affected.

Try Canals

Did you know that 50% of the population of England live within five miles of a canal? That means that you’re likely to have a brilliant fishery right on your doorstep! Canals are now well known as fantastic fisheries for species like big carp and perch which can be targeted with a variety of methods including fly fishing! You can find where to fish from the Canal & Rivers Trust and Angling Trust members get 50% off their Waterways Wanderer permit which gives access to miles of waters not controlled by angling clubs for just £10!

▶︎ We’re running events for families to fish together or for anglers to get back into angling. They are all FREE to attend and tackle and bait is included too. You’ll find a link to special Let’s Go Family Fishing events here.

▶︎ We are hearing about brilliant sea angling catches all around the coast so that’s another reason to join our friendly Species Hunt for a chance to win £2,300 worth of TronixPro prizes. It’s free to enter and there’s tips on the Species Hunt’s Facebook page. Register here.


This YouTube video is well worth a listen, it lasts for almost an hour but but is educational and answers many questions about particularly the reason for the decline in grilles runs. It relates to the River Tweed, but after watching you will see that it is as relevant to all our salmon rivers as it is to the Tweed. The speaker Jens Christian Holst is Norwegian so his accent makes listening a little difficult, but believe me its worth making the effort.

Click here to watch and listen to the presentation


Angling Trust Media Release Thursday, 12th January, 2017

Environmental case for tidal lagoons is stuck in the mud

                                  In recent years there has been a renewed interest by anglers in targeting true crucan carp, like this fine specimen, and it's great to see more and more fisheries being managed to promote this species.

The Government’s Hendry report issued today has given a cautious backing for the financial case for tidal lagoons but it failed to examine the environmental impact of these colossal developments or to consider alternative technologies to generate tidal power which are currently being developed.

The report also bases its assessment of the economics on a 120 year lifetime – double the 60 years initially suggested by the developers – which is unrealistic due to the high risk of the lagoons filling with sediment well before the year 2140, by which time there will inevitably have been technological developments for renewable power generation which will make lagoon technology seem like ancient history.

Natural Resources Wales has already concluded [note 1] that there could be a major adverse impact on fish populations, such as fragile salmon and sea trout stocks, from the currently-proposed Swansea Bay lagoon design. The regulator has indicated that it would not be able to grant the project the Marine Licence it needs to go ahead based on the evidence supplied to date by developers Tidal Lagoon Power.

The Swansea scheme only begins to make any economic sense at all if the much larger lagoon near Cardiff were also to be constructed, but this is sited in an even more sensitive environmental area than Swansea Bay, with several international conservation designations related to salmon, shad, eels and lamprey, as well as rare marine habitats which could be destroyed.

In 2010, a report to the then Department of Energy and Climate Change [note 2] concluded that tidal lagoons in the Severn Estuary could cause the extinction of some of these fish populations. In 2015, Natural Resources Wales indicated that these conclusions were still valid.

Major concerns have also been raised by expert tidal geomorphologists about the effect of the lagoons on sediment deposition in the silt-laden waters of the Severn estuary, with some suggesting that the lifespan of the lagoons should be shortened to one or two decades rather than the 95 years on which the Hendry report bases its calculations of value for money, which would blow the economic case for public support out of the water.

Large amounts of energy would be expended mining and transporting vast quantities of rock from the proposed quarry site in Cornwall – the use of which has also been successfully challenged in the courts by local community and environmental groups in the area – before any energy is generated from the tides.

Building such huge developments in the Severn Estuary could prevent the exploitation of tidal energy by alternative, more benign technologies which are currently in development and others which have not yet been developed. There is undoubtedly great potential for renewable energy generation around the UK coastline, but this should only be permitted if it can be proven not to cause unacceptable damage to the environment.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “Tidal Lagoon Power has done a first rate job at spinning this project politically, but the company has failed spectacularly to quantify convincingly the impacts on sediment deposition, local communities, wildlife and fisheries, which are of particular interest to our members. The Government should avoid giving its backing to what could be a colossal series of white elephants before carrying out a more strategic assessment of the sustainable management of the Severn Estuary and other areas with large tidal ranges around the UK. It is impossible to see how lagoons could be built while meeting the government’s headline commitment to leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.”

Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Group challenge N.R.W over C&R proposals

 From Charlie Abbot:   Hywel Bromley Davenport   John Eardley    Gavin Jones   3rd January 2017

To: Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM

National Assembly for Wales

Cardiff Bay


CF99 1NA

Copies to:

Liz Saville Roberts MP

Cllr Peredur Jenkins

Cllr Linda Morgan

Cllr Dyfrig L. Siencyn

Mark Lloyd – Angling Trust

NRW Board Members (via NRW Board Secretariat)

Dear Dafydd,

Collectively we represent the vast majority of angling interests on the Mawddach & Wnion and between us have more than 160 years’ experience of fishing these rivers. At the Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Group Meeting at Coed-y-Brenin on 30th November we were made aware of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) proposed decision to implement Mandatory Catch & Release in 2017 for Salmon across Wales and for Sea Trout in the rivers Dysynni, Gwyrfai, Mawddach &Wnion and Seiont. Not only do we have grave concerns about the impact of these decisions on the future of angling in Wales but are also fearful of the serious implications for local tourism.

Anglers across Wales feel that NRW is either not listening or simply choosing to ignore their concerns and we wish to raise a number of issues which we will address separately. Unless otherwise stated all quotes from NRW in this letter are taken from the documents NRW B B 40.15 and NRW B B 40.15 Annex 2 which were presented to the NRW Board Meeting at Canolfan Cae Cymro, Clawdd Newydd on 9th July 2015.

  1. 1.      How the ‘consultation’ has been handled

A number of angling representatives attended the NRW Board Meeting at Canolfan Cae Cymro, Clawdd Newydd on 9th July 2015 following fears that the agenda item “Management Options to Address the Decline in Stocks of Salmon and Some Sea Trout in Wales” could potentially result in a decision being made without ever being discussed by Local Fisheries Advisory Groups. Having contacted the then chairman, Peter Matthews, in advance of the meeting, we were grateful that he took the decision to move the agenda item until after the coffee break so that we had the opportunity to speak to board members prior to the issue being discussed.

The relevant board paper shows that there were already concerns about how their proposals would be perceived:

External Communications and stakeholder engagement


34. Criticism of the approach to the consultation.

35. Concerns about the impact of the decision on angling in Wales.

38. Potential need to re-direct or increase fisheries enforcement resources to enforce any new regulation.

41. There has been some dis-content following the consultation and implementation of actions following the review of hatcheries and stocking in Wales. This is because of a perception of pre-determination.

42. There is also significant concern amongst some stakeholders about our commitment to fisheries management and enforcement, as indicated by submissions to the WG scrutiny process.

43. We will prepare a fisheries communications plan to seek to engage stakeholders in deciding the management options necessary to address the decline in stocks of salmon and some sea trout at the same time seeking to address wider fisheries concerns.”

 “This is a difficult issue because of the radical nature of the measures proposed, and it will be unpopular.”

 “We do not consider that angling or netting in our coastal waters is the cause of the decline in salmon stocks, however restraint here is required to increase the spawning stocks whilst habitat repair and improvements works, following the principle of natural resource management, proceed.”

“Further restrictions on fishing will be unpopular with most and we need a strategy to deal with this.”

 During the ensuing discussion one board member made the point that the introduction of the national spring salmon measures in 1999, which requires all rod caught salmon to be released prior to June 16th, had done nothing to address declining stocks and therefore how were these proposals going to do anything different.

In closing the discussion the chairman stated that he “hoped that their aims could be achieved without resorting to statutory legislation” and yet 15 months, more meetings and a “consultation” later the proposals are to introduce Mandatory Catch and Release via statutory legislation. It is little wonder that NRW were concerned that there would be “Criticism of the approach to the consultation” and that anglers have “a perception of pre-determination”.

Angling representatives did have the opportunity to voice their concerns at the Joint Dee and Clwyd and Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Group Meeting at Coed-y-Brenin on 24th November 2015 and this was followed by a written questionnaire (which many felt had questions loaded to obtain the desired outcome) which concluded on 31st January 2016. Despite spending considerable amount of time in both attending the meeting and developing our own responses to the questionnaire it would seem that yet again NRW have chosen to dismiss our responses out of hand, showing no desire to develop and implement any form of alternative conservation strategy.

NRW may profess that it “aims to deliver widespread and positive partnership working” but sadly there is no evidence of it in this instance.

  1. 2.      Concerns surrounding the data used to inform this decision

Whilst it is “…. a statutory requirement for anglers and netsmen to submit catch returns, and the rod catch data is used to assess the status of stocks of both species”, this data is less than robust. During the period 2010 to 2014 an average of 62.8% of anglers submitted a catch return and there is therefore a gaping hole in the figures.

A comparison of the total number of salmon caught between 2010 & 2014 on the 3 main fisheries on the Afon Dyfi (where accurate records are maintained), shows that on average the number of salmon recorded by the official statistics (Salmonid and Freshwater Fisheries Statistics for England and Wales) is 31.17% lower, mirroring what has already been proved in North West England. The actual fisheries total does not include a number of other private stretches and it is highly likely that the discrepancy is even greater! The actual figures are shown in the table below:


Combined NDFA/PAAS/BrigandsTotal

 Salmonid and Freshwater Fisheries
Statistics for England & Wales Total

%age Difference






















5 Year Average


When it comes to Sea Trout the data is even more flawed. Anglers are asked to record the number of days that they have fished each river before and after 16th June. Other than anyone who keeps a meticulous fishing diary, the vast majority of anglers hazard a wild guess. Even then it is debatable what constitutes a day’s fishing. Some anglers fish for an hour or less and record it as a day while others will only record a full day. It is hopelessly flawed and inaccurate and yet this is what informs the ‘Catch per Unit Effort’ which is used to assess whether sea trout stocks are at risk.

To quote NRW:

“……….. (sea trout) assessment is less robust than that for salmon as we have no corresponding biologically-based assessment process. This assessment is therefore based on long-term trends in catch per unit effort.”

“We do not currently have a decision structure for sea trout. This is because we have no comparable method to set egg deposition targets or to assess compliance with any such target. Instead the sea trout assessment tool uses recent trends in catch per unit effort to determine the status of stocks and their temporal trends. Catch over the most recent 3-year period is compared to a reference period of the previous 10 years and categories of risk are assigned depending on the performance of the fishery.”

“In Wales, NRW has also unilaterally applied a principle that a period of three consecutive years ‘At Risk’ or ‘Probably at Risk’ (declining) can be applied to any stock prior to developing statutory fishing controls.”

And so, based on a wild guess as to many ‘days’ 62.8% of fishermen think they have spent on the river, NRW’s 2015 ‘Know Your River – Mawddach Salmon & Sea Trout Catchment Summary’ is able to state that “……..the Mawddach is classified as “probably at risk”; i.e. the fishery appears to be performing reasonably well with no immediate concerns about the status of the adult stock” (those are the words used in the document), which in turn leads to the proposal to introduce Mandatory Catch & Release for a 10 year period.

Furthermore, whilst we appreciate that there are real concerns about salmon numbers, it should also be recognised that drought conditions in 2013, 2014 and autumn 2015 have had a major impact on both the timings of movements of migratory fish and angling effort and this in turn has resulted in depressed catches.

No doubt the 2015 Juvenile Salmonid Summary conducted by NRW will be quoted as further evidence to inform the introduction of Mandatory C & R. However we again have real concerns that just 3 monitoring sites can give us a true picture of what is going on within the catchment, particularly when NRW itself makes the statement that “The Mawddach site is very large and catch efficiency is low”. Although we were fearful of the potential impacts of the severe winter floods in December 2015, which will no doubt have washed out redds and caused juvenile fish to migrate within the catchment, anglers have been encouraged by the significant numbers of both parr and fry observed in other locations such as the Afon Aran and tidal areas of both Mawddach & Wnion.

  1. 3.      The impact of banning worm fishing

NRW intends to ban worm fishing as part of its measures. This causes issues in 2 distinct areas of both the Mawddach & Wnion.

On the upper reaches of both rivers worm fishing is the only effective method of fishing. Spinning is restricted to a few areas and fly fishing all but impossible. To ban worm fishing is effectively to ban angling and as a consequence there would be little point in continuing to rent those waters. One angling club alone pays rents totalling £13,842 on such waters and this money would effectively be removed from the local economy. Furthermore with no legitimate anglers present on the river there is no deterrent for would be poachers and no ‘intelligence gathering’ for NRW’s hardworking but woefully understaffed enforcement team.

On the tidal waters the effects are very different. Here a significant number of elderly and/or less able anglers, local and visiting alike, spend their time on the riverbank during the summer months. These anglers are not physically able to use any method other than worm fishing and so their fishing days are ended at a stroke. So much for the socio-economic benefits of angling.

  1. 4.      The impact on angling tourism and the local economy and environment

One of our greatest concerns is the impact of these proposals on the local tourist economy. NRW of course is well aware of this as is evidenced by the following quotes:

  1.                                 i.            “Salmon and sea trout are iconic and important species in our rivers. They support recreational fisheries that bring economic benefit (in excess of £74 million annual expenditure in Wales, supporting around 1,500 Welsh jobs and £32 million in household income, Mawle and Peirson, 2009), often to rural communities”
  2.                               ii.            “Welsh Government has set objectives for NRW to contribute to objectives for freshwater fisheries management, broadly by promotion of the conservation and maintenance of the diversity of migratory and freshwater fish, and by enhancing the contribution that migratory and freshwater fisheries make to the economy, particularly in remote rural areas and in areas with low levels of income.”
  3.                             iii.            “We need to manage our natural resources in a way that provides multiple benefits for people and nature now and in the future. As part of that we need to ensure that fish stocks are managed sustainably to provide maximum socio-economic benefits.”
  4.                              iv.            “We have a range of roles and duties for fisheries that are relevant to our management of salmon and sea trout stocks, noting that policy responsibility for Welsh fisheries is devolved to WG.
  • to enhance the contribution that fish make to the economy, particularly in rural areas
  • to enhance the social value of fishing as a healthy form of recreation”

One caravan site adjacent to the Mawddach has a total of 24 static caravans and 7 permanent touring caravans which are owned by visiting anglers who are members of Dolgellau Angling Association and/or Prince Albert Angling Society. These anglers pay a total of £24,623.59 to the site owner which includes £4,421.35 in rates to the local authority. This figure does not include ‘short stay’ visiting anglers and there are many other caravan sites, both in the Dolgellau are and across Wales, where anglers make similar contributions. The total spend in local shops, restaurants, petrol stations and tourist attractions etc is immense.

A questionnaire survey of 70 anglers on the Mawddach in 2010 (All of the original survey and analysis sheets are available for inspection should anyone wish to question the validity of the data) showed that only 22.86% of anglers would continue to fish if Mandatory C&R was introduced (a number of these were local anglers who said that they would only buy a trout licence in the circumstances). There is nothing to suggest that this will have changed in 2016 and this, in conjunction with the previous figures, highlights the threat to the local economy and environment from a decline in angling tourism.

Both angling clubs also spend considerable sums of money in the local economy in order to maintain their waters. During 2016 that total is well in excess of £3500, spread across a variety of businesses including Huws Gray (Dolgellau), Wynnstay (Dolgellau), Travis Perkins (Machynlleth), Major Owen (Penrhyndeudraeth) and Coleg Meirion Dwyfor (Glynllifon). Riparian owners have also spent in excess of £2000 in recent years for the same purpose.

We also make a significant contribution to the local environment by tackling both Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam on the banks of both the Mawddach & Wnion. Both angling clubs are currently involved in a partnership project with the local Rotary Club and Snowdonia National Park which is delivering a catchment based approach. This is both skilled (members have undergone the appropriate City & Guilds Training in their own time) and physical work and it is hard to see where the will and motivation to continue will come from if anglers feel that they have been driven off the rivers.

We have also participated in partnership working with NRW in order to deliver habitat improvement schemes in order to improve the juvenile recruitment of both salmon and sea trout within the catchment of both rivers. Again enthusiasm and commitment can only be stifled by NRW’s proposals.

  1. 5.      Why we oppose the introduction of Mandatory Catch & Release

We are fully supportive of measures to conserve our stocks of salmon and sea trout; what we disagree with is how this is being conducted. We know that Mandatory C&R drives anglers away, one only has to look on the banks of the Welsh Dee and Severn prior to June 16th to see that anglers are indeed an endangered species.

The ‘Background Salmon Report 2014 (CEFAS EA NRW)’ provides clear evidence to support this:

  • “On average, pre-June catches, including fish released, comprised 11% of the total declared rod catch in the five years prior to the measures (1994–1998), while this has fallen to a mean of less than 6% since 1999.
  • Changes in rod licence costs and the imposition of compulsory catch-and-release may also have affected the take-up of licences and effort.
  • The national spring salmon measures, ban on sale of rod-caught fish and catch and release requirements are all thought to have influenced angling effort in recent years.
  • the number of annual licences has changed more markedly, decreasing from ~27,000 in 1994 to ~15,000 in 2001 (down 44%), mainly due to the decline in salmon stocks and the introduction of restrictions on angling, especially those to protect early-run MSW fish (compulsory catch and release before 16 June)”.

The 2015 document adds further evidence: “The number of days fished by anglers in Wales has fallen by 50% since 1994”.

Unfortunately what NRW are failing to grasp is that Mandatory C&R drives anglers away and this was perhaps best illustrated when NRW Principal Fisheries Advisor, Peter Gough stated at the joint Dee & Gwynedd LFAG held at Coed y Brenin visitor centre on Tuesday 24th November 2015, that anglers would continue to fish because they are already putting 80% of their fish back anyway. This completely misses the point! Anglers will fish and return most, and in some cases all, of their fish but when they are told that they cannot even retain one fish, the majority stop fishing altogether.

So why are anglers so vital to the survival of our salmon and sea trout stocks?

  • Firstly anglers have a vested interest in the stocks of migratory fish. To the ordinary member of the public the countryside of Wales is just as attractive whether there are any fish swimming in the rivers or not. Unfortunately fish are not as visible and do not have the same appeal to the general public as many mammals.
  • Secondly the presence of anglers on the riverbank acts as a deterrent to poachers. If we drive anglers away fewer fish will survive to spawn.
  • Thirdly those anglers are the eyes and ears that provide intelligence for NRW’s Enforcement Officers (who we have the utmost respect for). We are sure that NRW’s records will indicate that the percentage of calls that from anglers far exceeds that from the general public. Without intelligence an already overstretched Enforcement Team cannot hope to protect our fish stocks, indeed they have consistently implored anglers in recent times to provide good intelligence. Indeed when we surveyed 70 anglers on the Mawddach in 2010 75.71% of anglers told us that they had never been approached on the riverbank by an Environment Agency Wales bailiff whilst fishing the Mawddach and Wnion during the previous 5 years. With the Enforcement Team reduced further since that date it is patently obvious that fish stocks cannot be protected effectively unless we work in partnership with one another. Indeed if Mandatory Catch and Release is introduced, NRW Enforcement Officers cannot police it. On the other hand, angling organisations can, and do, police their own rules both through club bailiffs and peer pressure from other members.
  • Fourthly with the closure of hatcheries and ending of third party stocking, habitat improvement has an even more significant role in the restoration of fish stocks. River Trusts and organisations such as our own are keen to work in partnership with NRW to deliver this work. However it is going to be much more difficult to recruit volunteers when anglers either feel that they are not being listened to or have decided to fish elsewhere.
  • Fifthly there has been a steady increase in the number of predators which are a threat to both adult and juvenile salmonids. A particular problem has been with cormorants, mergansers & goosanders and it is largely angling organisations that have applied for culling licences. If anglers are driven away predator numbers will increase with a corresponding reduction in the fish population.
  • Sixthly the revenue from migratory fish licences is vital to fund both habitat improvement and to provide resources to protect fish stocks. With fewer licences sold, those anglers who remain deciding to purchase only a trout licence (the cost of a full licence is set to rise from £72 to £82 in 2017) there can only be less money available to improve matters

We as anglers are also particularly frustrated that NRW is proposing to change the ruling from no catch restrictions at all to 100% release, without any intermediate measures to protect stocks adequately. NRW does however acknowledge that angling clubs have introduced their own conservation measures:

“There have been great advances in the uptake of voluntary catch-and-release (C&R) fishing by anglers across Wales, moving from close to zero two decades ago to a declared Welsh national average in 2014 of about 78% for salmon and sea trout.”

“Non-statutory restrictions on methods and fishing areas imposed by fishery owners and angling associations include weekly and seasonal bag limits, and there are ongoing efforts to promote catch and release (C&R). As a consequence, the proportion of salmon released by anglers has increased steadily from 10% in 1993 to at or above 60% in the last six years (79%, provisionally, in 2015, the highest in the time series)”.

In 2010 we asked Environment Agency Wales to consider a tagging system for the Mawddach, similar to that which is used on the Ribble in England. We were told that it would be better for angling clubs to introduce and police their own conservation measures as the agency did not have the staff to operate such a scheme. The Environment Agency in England ultimately passed a specific bylaw to reinforce the tagging scheme which has mainly been policed by angling associations. The Ribble has benefitted from this scheme with lower exploitation rates and a less marked decline than nearby rivers such as the Lune and Welsh Dee. It clearly works!

We feel that the local community must be made aware of the consequences of NRW’s proposals. As has already been stated angling organisations have taken a responsible stance and sought to conserve fish stocks by introducing and policing their own rules, whilst NRW has stood on the side lines and then stepped in at the eleventh hour with a simplistic, “what more can we do?” solution that incurs little cost and which they do not have the means to police.

Anglers want to work in a real partnership and that of course is a 2 way process. The way forward is to engage anglers and promote the education process that has already seen Voluntary C&R rise to unprecedented levels. NRW must not be allowed to stubbornly proceed with its doctrinal and draconian proposals which have already been tried and tested and proved to be ineffectual in the restoration of fish stocks and which will only serve to drive anglers away from Welsh rivers and thereby further threaten fish stocks and reduce income derived from tourism.

Yours sincerely


John Eardley – Gwynedd Local Fisheries Advisory Group Representative – Prince Albert Angling Society

Gavin Jones – Secretary, Dolgellau Angling Association

Charlie Abbott – Riparian Owner, Afon Mawddach

Hywel Bromley Davenport – Riparian Owner, Afon Mawddach


Happy Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year

Whilst we have not made the headlines recently, you can be assured that we are working on our next big campaign issue. We hope that you will join the Angling Trust and encourage your clubs and syndicates to do the same.  Welsh game anglers are seriously lacking support or representation at government level and the Angling Trust has agreed to take up the mantle on our behalf. They can only do this if we support them by formally joining them. PLEASE DO. Thank you. Tight lines for 2017.

Major pollution incident on River Teifi

One has to wonder how this destruction will be made good now Welsh hatcheries have been closed. Its a long way to Cynrig and brood stock will be difficult to acquire. We look forward to hearing what NRW will do.


Angling Trust Media ReleaseWednesday, 21st December, 2016 Angling Trust Logo
Major pollution incident on River Teifi highlights national failure of government to tackle agricultural pollutionThis week the River Teifi in Wales, which was once one of the premier salmon and sea trout rivers in the UK, was polluted with farm slurry and hundreds, possibly thousands, of fish have been killed.  The impact on fish stocks is likely to be very severe for up to a decade, and thousands of both local and visiting anglers who bring money into the Welsh economy will have their sport destroyed.Fish Legal, a membership association for angling clubs and fishery owners, is fighting more than 60 legal cases throughout the UK and is investigating the Teifi pollution case to see if it can make a compensation claim for its member angling clubs and riparian owners who have been affected.  However, many elderly anglers who have fished the river all their lives may not live to see it restored to its former glory.  Thousands of anglers on internet forums have expressed their fury in the past two days about the pollution of this beautiful river.This tragic incident is the latest in a rising tide of major pollutions from farms affecting rivers in England and Wales.  Government figures show that farming is now the top cause of major pollution incidents and also the principal cause of the general malaise affecting the majority of rivers.  The Angling Trust has repeatedly called for tougher regulation of farmers for more than five years, including earlier this month on BBC Countryfile, but governments in Westminster and Cardiff have chosen to take a light touch to regulation.

The Angling Trust is, coincidentally, this week responding to a consultation from Welsh Assembly Government about a proposal to define the whole of Wales as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, which would place greater restrictions on spreading slurry and other damaging farm practices, but further action is required to get the agricultural industry, which receives approximately £3 billion of taxpayers money each year, to stop polluting rivers.  The Trust will be writing to the Welsh Assembly Government calling on it to take urgent action.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal said: “Anglers have had enough of seeing our precious rivers destroyed due to a lack of care and attention by farmers who are receiving billions in subsidies each year from hard pressed taxpayers.  Our organisations repeat our call to governments to get serious about farm pollution and to take tough regulatory action to ensure that watercourses are not polluted with slurry, pesticides, fertiliser and soil.  It is their duty to protect fish and the host of other wildlife that relies on clean water and healthy habitats, which they are failing to deliver.  We need a complete rethink of the way that farming is regulated, and we need it now.”

- ENDS - 


Media contact: Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, on 07973 468198.

Photo: The pollution incident on the River Teifi in Wales has killed hundreds and possibly thousands of fish, including salmon and sea trout.

Notes to editors: 

Details around the consultation on Nitrate Vulnerable Zones in Wales is available here, while the Angling Trust’s response can be found here.

Information about pollution incidents in England and Wales.

Angling Trust:

The Angling Trust is the national representative and governing body for angling in England. It is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal, a separate membership association using the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK.

Find out all about the Angling Trust and its work at or call us on 01568 620447.

The pollution incident on the River Teifi in Wales has killed hundreds and possibly thousands of fish, including salmon and sea trout.