The Environment Agency’s national salmon and sea trout byelaws, applicable in England, have been confirmed by Defra. This means that the byelaws will become law and come into force on 1 January 2019.
The Environment Agency is introducing these restrictions on fishing in England in response to the international decline in migratory salmon stocks. Salmon stock numbers are currently among the lowest on record and are below sustainable levels in many rivers.
The byelaws will become law on the 1st January 2019 and will see the following restrictions being implemented:
Closing all commercial net fisheries for ‘At Risk’ and ‘Probably At Risk’ rivers (some fishing for sea trout will still be allowed). This will include all drift net fisheries;
Mandatory catch and release by anglers on the rivers that are classed as ‘At Risk’ to be introduced in June 2019. These are the Cumbrian Calder, Dorset Stour and Yealm;
Mandatory catch and release by anglers on the rivers that are listed as ‘Recovering Rivers’. These are rivers where salmon were effectively wiped out and small populations have re-established in recent years with improvements in water quality on mostly heavily polluted post-industrial catchments. Examples of these are the Mersey, Yorkshire Ouse;
Renewal of the 1998 Spring Salmon Byelaws. These protect the larger, early running salmon, and do not involve any new measures.
The new byelaws come into force following an Environment Agency consultation, which sought views on how to better manage salmon fishing in England and the Border Esk.
As part of new byelaws there will be voluntary catch and release expectation for salmon caught rivers classed as ‘Probably at Risk’ to ensure catch and release levels greater than 90%.
Reducing the taking of salmon by rods and nets is only one part of the Environment Agency’s larger programme to protect salmon stocks. Actions taken by the Environment Agency and its partners that contribute to protecting salmon stocks include removing barriers, improving water quality and agricultural practices, and addressing unsustainable water abstractions.
Kevin Austin, Environment Agency’s Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment said:
It is only through continuing to take concerted action, and through the co-operation of others, that we will successfully protect this iconic fish for future generations.
We are not implementing these changes lightly and have consulted widely with those affected. There is no single solution to protecting salmon stocks; reducing the catch of salmon can only partly contribute to the recovery of salmon stocks.