Anglers face curbs to halt decline of salmon stocks

ALL SALMON caught by anglers in England and Wales will have to be returned to the river alive for the first half of the year, under proposals being put forward by the Environment Agency today to halt the salmon's speedy decline.

Hook sizes and numbers will be restricted for the same period, baits other than artificial fly and spinner banned, and salmon net fisheries forced to delay their activities. The agency says these measures are essential if the wild fish is to survive.

But it has drawn back from the drastic ban on fishing it was considering three months ago, which was a step too far for the angling sector and the substantial tourist industry it supports.

The agency now believes that catch-and-release can protect plunging salmon stocks while allowing fishing to continue. It has the further advantage of "keeping people on the bank" - allowing bailiffs and ghillies to make sure that conservation measures are not undermined by poaching.

The restrictions being proposed today will be discussed by regional fishing interests at a series of meetings over the next few weeks and then put forward as Environment Agency by-laws, which will need ministerial approval and will probably be in place by next March.

They will bring in catch-and-release from the start of the season, which varies with different rivers but can be as early as 15 January, until midsummer: the date is still to be determined, but it will be either 1 or 16 June or 1 July.

The 536 holders of licences for salmon netting in England and Wales will also be restricted and will not be able to begin operations until June.

The measures are particularly aimed at protecting spring salmon, the larger fish that have spent several winters at sea and tend to return to their native rivers early in the year, as opposed to grilse, the smaller, one-sea-winter fish that come back later.

`Springers" have suffered most in the salmon's spectacular decline over the past five years, which has raised the spectre of its extinction as a wild river fish in Britain.

Earlier this year the Environment Agency revealed that the 1997 salmon run was so bad that the overall level of spawning was only 60 per cent of that needed to sustain the population. In many rivers, salmon runs are a fraction of what they once were: in 1972, the catches in the River Wye in Wales and the River Test in Hampshire were 7,400 and 1,052 fish respectively; last year the figures were 733 and 49.

For big fish, those of more than 70cm, which tend to weigh more than 3.7kg, catch-and- release may be insisted upon under the agency's proposals for the whole season from January to October.

Many theories have been put forward for the salmon's decline. The principal ones are global warming, with the change in oceanic climate altering the distribution of the salmon's marine food stocks; overfishing at sea by boats from Greenland and The Faeroes; and the salmon- farming industry, which has caused a rise in sea-lice to the detriment of the health of the wild fish that catch them.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on