Catch and release call to conserve fish stocks

Atlantic salmon Image copyright PA
Image caption Currently 20 salmon rivers in Wales are considered 'at risk' or 'probably at risk'

Anglers are being urged to release more of the salmon and sea trout they catch in a bid to help conserve fish stocks.

The request from environment body Natural Resources Wales follows reports that numbers in Welsh rivers fell last year.

NRW is asking anglers to release at least 90% of their catch on "at risk" salmon rivers.

This will allow more to migrate upstream to spawn and produce more juvenile fish.

Currently about 72% of salmon and 76% of sea trout are released after being caught.

But NRW particularly wants to see more salmon released on the rivers Ogmore, Tywi, Taf, Eastern and Western Cleddau, Rheidol, Nevern, Dyfi and Seiont.

There is also cause for concern over sea trout stocks on the rivers Loughor, Tawe, Rheidol, Ystwyth, Dwyryd, Seiont and Conwy, it said.

By-laws working

NRW fisheries advisor Rob Evans said: "The number of fish migrating into many Welsh rivers was worryingly low last year so we are asking all anglers to help by releasing more of the fish they catch to boost the next generation."

Image copyright Tony Rees
Image caption This year salmon were found spawning above Taff Fawr weir near Merthyr for the first time in 200 years

Figures from the rivers Wye and Taff, where mandatory 100% catch and release by-laws are in place, suggest the policy is having a positive impact on the fish population.

As a result both are predicted to move out of the "at risk" category by 2018.

Fish stocks in 23 salmon and 27 sea trout rivers are assessed annually in Wales and placed in risk categories.

Currently 20 salmon rivers are considered either "at risk" or "probably at risk".

In the past 10 years millions of pounds have been invested in Wales to improve stocks, by building fish passes to spawning grounds and improving habitats.

Angling is said to be worth approximately £150m to the Welsh economy.

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