Salmon numbers are plummeting and the Environment Agency is proposing new rules to help conserve give the fish a chance to spawn successfully.

The Environment Agency has announced new plans to help protect plummeting salmon numbers  across English rivers and the river Esk in Scotland.

Proposals include halting the taking of salmon from the majority of net fisheries by next year and the introduction of a mandatory requirement to return all salmon caught on those rivers with the lowest stocks. Voluntary catch and release targets are proposed for all other rivers, along with a restriction of the number, size and type of hooks that can be used when fishing.

Vulnerable rivers and salmon numbers

The rivers with the most vulnerable salmon stocks have been identified as the Tees, Stour, Yealm, Plym, Ribble, Wyre, Lune, Crake, Calder and Derwent.

Kevin Austin, the Environment Agency’s deputy director for agriculture, fisheries and the natural environment said: “We are not suggesting these proposals lightly and have consulted widely with those affected. However, we need to take action now in order to give as many of the salmon that make it back to our rivers as possible a chance to spawn successfully.

“The reasons for the decline of salmon are complex, and there is no single solution; reducing the catch of salmon can only partly contribute to the recovery of salmon stocks.

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No mandatory catch and release

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust welcomed news that there would be no 100 per cent mandatory catch and release on anglers, as had been initially proposed, commenting: “We are delighted to have won this important campaign to save more than 20,000 salmon from being killed in nets every year and to have protected many anglers from draconian regulations. However, we now need to see urgent action to tackle the root causes of declining stocks which are water quality, predation, poor marine survival and degraded habitats.”

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust recently launched its SAMARCH project to help combat the decline in salmon and sea trout stocks.