The Angling Trust has welcomed the announcement yesterday by Welsh Government that it will delay making a decision about implementing highly controversial new by-laws requiring salmon anglers to release every salmon they catch in Wales until 2019.
The proposals were recommended to Welsh Government in January by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) despite opposition from the vast majority of anglers and differences of opinion on the NRW board about whether the regulations were fair or proportionate. Since then, anglers have lobbied the Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths and have raised concerns about the methodology to assess the status of stocks and the duration of the restrictions, which would be in place for the next 10 years.
The Angling Trust wrote to the Cabinet Secretary and the UK Fisheries Minister in early April highlighting these concerns and called on them to adopt a voluntary approach which would have the support of anglers, angling clubs and fishery owners. A mandatory approach would be damaging to the rural economy, could put some clubs out of business and would alienate many anglers who carry out voluntary work to maintain and improve the water environment
The Angling Trust felt that mandatory proposals unfairly penalised anglers who already release most of the salmon they catch but have seen salmon numbers put at risk by the government’s ongoing failure to take any meaningful action to tackle the widespread and endemic pollution of rivers. The Trust has also called on the government to allow fishing clubs and fishery owners greater freedom to manage the huge increase in fish eating birds that kill far more fish than anglers could ever dream of catching
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, said: “The angling community now has the opportunity to demonstrate that the voluntary approach advocated by the Angling Trust can be successfully implemented and avoid these regulations being imposed on us next season. We urge everyone to play their part in releasing salmon carefully over the coming season and ensure that they submit a catch return, even if they caught no fish. We hope the government will now finally take action to enforce regulations to stop the pollution of our beautiful Welsh rivers that once teemed with salmon and sewin, and to allow fishery managers to control cormorants and goosanders to sustainable levels.”