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Wales’ proposed salmon byelaws postponed until 2019

Proposed byelaws for Wales which will make it mandatory for fishermen to release all salmon caught in Welsh rivers have been postponed until 2019. In a press release issued today, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) stated that the “protracted” procedures for introducing new byelaws, coupled with “uncertainty for fishermen” caused by the delay implementation of the approved new measures has caused it to postpone the measures until the 2019 season.

The measures, which have been hotly contested by anglers, clubs and which the Angling Trust had labelled as “draconian” are currently being considered by Welsh Government.

Dave Mee, Senior Fisheries Advisor for NRW, said: “At the moment timescales for a decision are uncertain, so we are proposing that introduction of any new measures should be postponed until the beginning of the 2019 rod and net seasons.

“We hope this will help clarify the situation for anglers, netsmen, fishery owners and clubs and associations.”

The release goes on to say that Welsh salmon stocks remain in a perilous condition. Although the mandatory catch and release proposals have proved unpopular with anglers, NRW firmly believes that they, along with other measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality and managing the potential threats from predators are vital for the future survival of these iconic fish.

Peter Gough, Principal Fisheries Advisor for NRW added: “This delay is a pragmatic solution to resolving current uncertainty.

“However, it is important to note that this does not mean there will be further debate on the subject as NRW has concluded its position and the case for further controls has been made and presented to Welsh Government and it remains unchanged.

“Protection of the breeding resources of these wonderful fish is a fundamental part of our work to manage this important natural resource sustainably,”

For this season fishermen are again being called on by NRW to practice full restraint and ensure conservation of fish stocks by voluntarily releasing all the salmon they catch in 2018.

Dave Mee said: “We are again asking all anglers to release all of their salmon.

“Most anglers are already voluntarily releasing the fish they catch, but some are not. We feel the situation is now so serious for salmon that we must ask all anglers to help preserve as many fish as possible by returning all their salmon.

“It’s also very important to take great care of returned fish. Fishing methods and tackle should be used that ensure fish have a high probability of survival, they should always be kept in the water while unhooking to ensure they can swim away strongly.”

The proposed byelaws include restrictions on fishing methods, such as  banning of the worm, use of barbless hooks only, and mandatory catch-and-release across Wales. The proposals attracted 548 objections, but NRW continued to push for complete adoption of its plans and submitted them to government last month.

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