Angling and fisheries organisations are calling for urgent Government action following official figures that showed the worst estimates of salmon stocks on record.
A coalition of concerned angling, fisheries and conservation groups has written to Government Fisheries Minister George Eustice and to his counterpart Edwina Hart in the Welsh Assembly Government, to demand urgent implementation of a five-point action plan to halt the sharp decline in salmon stocks in England and Wales.
The Salmon & Trout Association, Angling Cymru, Afonydd Cymru, Atlantic Salmon Trust, Fish Legal, The Rivers Trust, and The Angling Trust have urged the Government to take the five remedial actions that are urgently needed to restore stocks of this iconic species to English and Welsh rivers and protect them for future generations.
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) Annual Assessment of Salmon Stocks and Fisheries in England and Wales in 2013 estimates that only 19 of the principal 64 salmon rivers in England and Wales reached their conservation targets; compared to 42 in 2011. This is the equal lowest number since conservation targets were introduced in 1993. Overall, the number of salmon estimated to be returning to England and Wales in the last two years was amongst the lowest on record, and the report does not expect a significant improvement in stock levels.
"Many of the actions that we are advocating will not only benefit salmon,” explained Paul Knight, Chief Executive of the Salmon & Trout Association. “They will also benefit the economy in a number of rural areas, bearing in mind the often substantial economic value of salmon fisheries."
"These figures, coupled with reports from our members, are very worrying for the future of salmon and the angling sector which supports thousands of jobs,” added Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal. The Government must do everything possible around our coasts and in our rivers to minimise threats to salmon.”
"While we are calling for more money to be spent on salmon conservation in general, however, many of the key measures necessary are not in themselves costly,” said Arlin Rickard, Chief Executive Officer of The Rivers Trust. “And we also urgently need a joined-up package of measures, including advice and grants, to help farmers improve farm practices to address the widespread problem of agricultural pollution [of our rivers]."