Natural Resources Wales bylaws
Natural Resources Wales plans to introduce bylaw changes in 2017 delayed
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) had, in December 2015, put forward a pre consultation
questionnaire raising the issues facing Welsh salmon and sea trout rivers citing
the declining stocks and indicating that a range of measures were being considered
for 2017 onwards to halt the decline. The Club responded with its views which were
against any measures that would result a decline in membership as this would take
anglers off the banks of the river; the anglers being the eyes and ears of the river
and the only meaningful alarm for pollution and other environmental damage. The Club
is fully of the view that addressing pollution, habitat destruction and water quality
are far more effective measures to address declining stocks than catch and release,
increased size limits and a reduced season. The NRW proposals were further elaborated
in a meeting held November 16 which the Club committee attended but to date nothing
has been put forward in writing by NRW. Citing the lack of time to fully consult
and obtain reasoned argument, the Club has lobbied against the NRW proposals which
were vague, based on flawed data and late. In an announcement 13 February 2017 the
NRW confirmed that there will be no changes to National Bylaws in 2017 but it will
continue with its consultation with a view to implementing change in 2018. In the
meantime NRW has urged clubs to implement voluntary measures to address declining
stocks. To that end, at the Club’s AGM on 10 Feb 2017, the following were agreed
for implementation as revised Club rules for the 2017 season:
- The daily Club limit of 4 migratory fish (salmon or sewin) with any takeable fish
returned counting to the 4 fish limit will be revised to state that only 2 migratory
fish (salmon or sewin) may be taken per day with a further 2 fish allowed to be caught
and returned safely to the water. This restricts the daily takeable allowance to
a maximum of 2 migratory fish per day. This is significantly tighter than NRW’s own
daily limit of 2 salmon and 4 sewin per day. Note that the NRW limit of 5 salmon
per week remains in place.
- The Club will introduce an annual maximum take of 15 sewin per angler. At the present
time anglers are expected to observe this code voluntarily but the Club is examining
the possibility of employing fish tags to control and enforce this limit.
- The NRW bylaw requiring all salmon caught before 16 June to be carefully and quickly
returned to the water alive remains in place.
- It is NRW’s view that all salmon caught in Wales this season should be returned to
the water and released. The Club supports this position and may implement a rule
prohibiting the taking of salmon this season - this will be debated soon so please
revisit for an update on this proposal before June 16th.
- Anglers are urged to return as many sewin (and salmon) as possible as any returned
fish stands more chance of reproducing than one taken for the table. However, the
Club recognises the choice of anglers to take fish to eat. In doing so, please take
fish which have been hooked deep or are bleeding - do not return these to the water
and fish on for larger fish. Please also consider whether a large female sewin could
be returned in favour of a smaller sewin for the table as these brood stock are particularly
valuable to the spawning success of the river. Please execute common sense.
- Worm angling is largely inconsistent with catch and release. However, if using this
method beyond your taken limit of 2 fish, please use debarbed or barbless hooks,
strike early and use a disgorger to remove hooks carefully.
- Debarbing hooks on lure trebbles can significantly ease release of fish - removing
one of the hooks on each trebble can also ease release further improving chance of
- Only knotless mesh landing nets may be used
- Handle fish carefully, keeping them in the water if possible whilst unhooking.
- Full details on good catch and release practice can be found here
- Anglers may fish for brown trout beyond the limits stated above but this is only
permitted with the clear intention of selecting for small brown trout with a fly.
The use of worm and spinner for such fish beyond the 4 fish daily limit is not permitted.
The Club will continue to engage with the NRW in 2017 and will defend the right of
anglers to fish and take fish sustainably whilst driving at the real causes it believes
to be at the root of the decline - pollution, habitat destruction and water quality.