New byelaws have come into force on the Taff and Ely rivers in south Wales this week aimed at safeguarding its salmon and sea trout population, Environment Agency Wales has confirmed.
The byelaws require the mandatory release of all salmon and sea trout caught by anglers on both of these rivers.
This follows the announcement of the introduction of similar byelaws on the River Wye last week.
Releasing 100% of salmon and sea trout will enable more fish to survive and spawn upstream and produce more juvenile fish to boost the population in these rivers which is recovering from extinction in the 19th century.
The byelaws were approved by Welsh Government ministers this week, and will be reviewed annually. The byelaws will end in 2018.
Anyone found to be contravening these byelaws could face prosecution and a substantial fine.
Recovering fragile stocks
Currently, around 75% of salmon and sea trout are released on these rivers by anglers. Under the 100% catch and release byelaw, nearly 100,000 extra eggs would be deposited in spawning grounds by the surviving fish later in the year.
The decision to introduce the byelaws is to support the recovering, but fragile stocks of salmon and sea trout in the Taff and Ely rivers.
Although many responsible anglers on these rivers are already returning salmon and sea trout, too many continue to kill their catch.
The byelaws will enable anglers to continue with their sport whilst safeguarding the fish.
The Agency has invested in building fish passes and removing barriers to improve access for migratory fish and improving water quality.
A lot of work has been done to improve habitats for fish and it is important that the fish survive to spawn in these improved areas.
Pete Gough, Environment Agency Wales, said:
“The recovery of the Taff and Ely from industrial pollution and the great improvements in their environmental quality is a great achievement. The Taff is one of the most improved rivers in the UK, and with this has come the initial stages of recovery of salmon and sea trout populations. We must now do what is needed to sustain the recovery.
“The majority of anglers are very responsible and do release the salmon and sea trout they catch. However, there are some that continue to kill the fish before they have a chance to spawn upstream.
“Any of these fish that are killed will have an impact and slow down the already recovering but fragile population in these rivers.
“We will be monitoring the stocks closely and will lift the measure in the future if the stocks recover sufficiently.”