To: Chief Executive Officer of NRW

CAMPAIGN FOR THE PROTECTION OF WELSH FISHERIES                                          30 July 2018

Re: NRW fisheries bylaw proposals

Dear Ms Pillman,

The Campaign for the protection of Welsh fisheries represents, and is supported by, all angling disciplines in Wales and is a major NRW stakeholder, we write on behalf of all Welsh anglers.

At the January 2018 NRW Board meeting held in Bangor the proposed bylaws were presented to the NRW Board for approval.  Although we had requested the opportunity to explain our concerns to board members ahead of any discussion, this was refused and we had to resort to speaking to a few members during the short lunch break, the majority of them subsequently speaking up on our behalf during the ensuing presentation.

When the Board reconvened after the lunch break the Chair (Diane McCrea) announced to the Board that, whilst the Board members may contribute to the discussions on the proposals, there would be no vote and she would have the final say.

The general feeling from the Board members was that further time should be given for the NRW fisheries team to meet with stakeholders and look for alternatives.  It was surprising that, despite the overwhelming feeling of the Board who felt that further discussion with stakeholders should take place, the Chair sided with the management team and approved the bylaw proposals, hardly democracy in action.   However, as a concession it was agreed by the Board that there had been a clear failure to properly engage with stakeholders and immediate steps should be taken to put this right.  We are now six months on and nothing has happened. In fact the NRW fisheries officers made a press statement following the announcement of the deferment of the bylaw proposals until 2019 in which they said “there would be no further debate” and “we are prepared to make ourselves unpopular” when referring to the bylaw proposals

The failure of NRW to engage with stakeholders was clearly recognised by the Petitions Committee on 3rd July during their consideration of two petitions from angling organisations.

The decline in migratory fish stocks is not disputed, this has been ongoing for over 20 years, but little or no effective action has been undertaken by the predecessor agencies to NRW to reverse this decline.  The introduction of the National Salmon Regulation in 1999 made it mandatory for anglers to return all salmon caught prior to 16 June (coupled with method restrictions) for a period of 10 years in order to protect the stock of ‘spring’ salmon.  This measure has been extended for a further 10 years as it has had little or no effect in reducing the decline in salmon but has had a marked effect on the numbers of anglers fishing prior to 16 June.

We now see NRW wanting to extend the National Salmon restrictions beyond 16 June, for a minimum period of 10 years, and to introduce more severe method restrictions on all Welsh rivers.  If introduced, the proposals will inevitably severely impact the number of anglers salmon fishing in Wales.  Several Welsh clubs have already seen their membership decline by 20-25% due to the uncertainty of the effects of the proposed bylaws.   Perhaps more significantly, there has been a decline of up to 75% in volunteers who carry out habitat improvement and maintenance work that is vital to the future survival of our fisheries. This demonstrates that NRW has lost the support of its stakeholders due to its failure to engage with or listen to them.

We have requested meetings with the Cabinet Secretary (Lesley Griffiths) or her Environment Minister (Hannah Blythyn) to put forward voluntary solutions which we believe would be more effective, only to be repeatedly told that she is unable to meet with stakeholders but will keep us informed of progress via NRW. Consequently, we still don’t know what is happening and the damage to our fisheries, and the rural economies which they support, continues.

I note in your blog when you took over as Chief Executive of NRW that you say:

“….To do that we need to take people with us – customers, stakeholders, politicians, decision-makers and the people of Wales.   I look forward to meeting them, hearing their views, and working with them over the coming years to make sure that we hand on the environment of Wales in the best possible condition to our children and grandchildren”.

On behalf of stakeholders I would therefore request a meeting with you in order to present alternatives which, although they potentially deliver better outcomes for both our fish stocks and fisheries, have been consistently rejected by the senior NRW Fisheries Team in their relentless pursuit of legislative approach.



Chris White

Conservation Officer: Campaign for the protection of Welsh fisheries


Representing, but not limited to, the following major stakeholders who fish Welsh rivers:


Angling Cymru

Betws-y-Coed Fishing Club

Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Anglers’ Society

OgwenValley Angling Association

Penrhyn Fishing Club

Rhyl & District Anglers

Vale of Clwyd Anglers

Corwen & District Angling Club

Llangollen Maelor Angling Club

Dolgellau Angling Association

Dee Fisheries Association

Federation of Clwyd Anglers

Wye Salmon Association

Bangor on Dee Angling Association

Merthyr Tydfil Angling Association

Crickhowell & District Angling Society

Brecon Angling Society

New Dovey Fishery Association

Prince Albert Angling Society

Wirral Game Fishing Club

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