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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
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

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'