Environment Agency communication
Notification of the consultation regarding new byelaw proposals to protect salmon stocks throughout the Severn catchment
We wish to work constructively with all angling interests in protecting the health and status of the River Severn fish populations, especially to ensure that the salmon stock and its valuable salmon fisheries remain sustainable into the future. At a time of great uncertainty for salmon stock resilience, we also trust that you are able to appreciate that there is a need to review protective measures to conserve the salmon stock at the current time.
We are writing to you and all the representative members of the Severn Fisheries Group to inform you about the start of a consultation process for the recommended restrictions on salmon fishing in the River Severn and its estuary. The consultation will run from 5 March until 6 April 2021.
The evidence from recent annual salmon stock assessments indicates a continued decline in the status of salmon in the River Severn. A decline has also been detected in the rivers Wye and Usk which contribute to the Severn estuary fishery, with substantial deficits in the number of spawning adults apparent on all three rivers. As a result, the Environment Agency is proposing further changes to the approach to controlling fishing activity in the River Severn. We are recommending a new suite of fisheries regulations which will limit the exploitation of salmon and sea trout by both rod and net fisheries in order to conserve these stocks and ensure the future sustainability of the Severn salmon and sea trout fisheries. These regulations will replace the emergency salmon protection byelaw that was implemented on 15 June 2019, and extended from June 2020 for a further six months to prevent the taking of salmon by the Severn rod and net fisheries.
The Environment Agency intends to apply to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for confirmation of time limited byelaws and net limitation order for the protection and preservation of the salmon fisheries within the Severn Estuary and River Severn.
We are beginning a 4 week consultation on proposed changes to how we manage salmon and sea trout fishing in the River Severn and Severn Estuary, which you may have view as an interested angling group. The consultation is designed to help you understand what is being proposed and to seek any relevant evidence from interested stakeholders that may justify modification of the proposed new regulations before we seek Ministerial confirmation
Importantly we would like to encourage all angling interest parties to review our proposals and participate in our consultation.
You can review our plans and respond online at:https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/west-midlands/river-severn-net-limitation-order-and-byelaws, or call 03708 506 506 to request a copy of the information to be posted or emailed. Documents can be viewed at our offices in Tewkesbury, Kidderminster and Shrewsbury. Consultation responses can then be returned by email or post.
After the consultation period, we will review comments and any objections and may modify our proposals if suitable evidence is provided. They are then sent to Defra Ministers for confirmation. The new byelaws and Net Limitation Order which will last for 10 years (to be reviewed after 5 years).
Overall, there is an accumulation of evidence that supports the need to continue restrictions on the harvesting of salmon from both the Severn estuary net and rod fisheries.
As observed in 2018, the adult salmon run in 2019 remained poor and this was subsequently reflected in the declared 2019 rod catch data. Consequently, the Severn adult salmon stock is classified as being ‘Probably at Risk’ now and remain at this level in 5 years.
River Severn salmon populations have declined in recent years and are now falling below the Conservation Limit, that is the minimum level deemed necessary to maintain populations at a healthy and sustainable level. The stock is therefore in need of more protection than has previously been in place.
Previous time-limited regulations for salmon and sea trout fishing on the River Severn for both rod and net fisheries need to be renewed and updated to ensure that salmon stocks are adequately protected from further harm.
In brief the byelaw proposals will require the return of all salmon and sea trout caught in the River Severn and Severn Estuary which are considered necessary as stocks are so fragile, these measures will protect salmon from further exploitation to ensure that they are allowed to stabilise and recover.
Further consideration for the restriction of certain fishing equipment and methods for catching salmon and sea trout and subsequently released back into the river, will improve their chances of survival and further increase numbers that can successfully spawn improving the opportunity for recovery and longer term future sustainability of stocks.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation in protecting salmon stocks on the Severn. Please forward this email to those groups you think may have an interest, I have also attached a poster that you may wish to post on a notice board or prominent place that has a quick link that can be scanned with a mobile device to the consultation webpage.
Chris Bainger MIFM Cenv
Fisheries Technical Specialist –
Severn Salmon Protection Measures
Environment Agency - West Midlands Area
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