2019 Assessment Finds 57% of Salmon Rivers in England & Wales at Risk

A new report, Salmonid and fisheries statistics for England and Wales 2019, by the Environment Agency highlights the growing concern on the status of salmon populations in our rivers. In England & Wales, no rivers were categorised as being ‘not at risk’, with all 22 principal salmon rivers in Wales categorised at ‘at risk’ or ‘probably at risk’ and 39 of 42 rivers in England being within these categories as well.

The rivers were assessed against the probability of a river’s salmon population exceeding its Conservation Limit – the minimum spawning stock level below which stocks should not be allowed to fall – in 4 years out of 5 using catch return data. While the catch data represents declared catches for 2019 its important to remember that this many not be the definitive record of the total number of fish landed due to poaching and IUU (illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing).

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns said “The continued decline in the number of salmon returning to our rivers is of grave concern to many anglers. Salmon are a protected species, an iconic fish with the most amazing lifecycles, spending time in both rivers and at sea, as far away as the west coast of Greenland, then, amazingly returning to the same river where they were born.

“Anglers are leading the way in the conservation and protection of salmon, with the Angling Trust being a leading member of the Missing Salmon Alliance. We know, more than anyone, that more needs to be done to protect salmon in English and Welsh rivers. Salmon face many challenges, barriers to their migration from dams and weirs, poor water quality, predation from the explosion of cormorants and goosanders we have seen in recent years, loss of spawning habitat, the impact of overfishing in coastal waters.

“Whilst we welcome the Environment Agency’s review of stock assessment methodology, which will give us a more accurate picture of the state of stocks in our river, we do not feel it will tell a different story. Anglers are the eyes and ears of the waterways, we have the greatest desire for an improvement in salmon stocks and we must ensure that the major issues impacting salmon are addressed locally, nationally and globally. We must ensure that we work collaboratively and are brave enough to tackle the big issues and not focus the resources we have on interventions with limited gain to the fish themselves.

“The Environment Agency has a five-point plan, and Natural Resource Wales an Action Plan for Salmon and Sea Trout. These need to be given a much greater priority, they need more funding, and they need greater political support. Action is needed urgently. We can’t wait. The salmon certainly can’t. In this year of a major UN biodiversity conference, and the hosting of the UN climate conference in Glasgow, the lack of action by our governments and their agencies is there for all to see in these figures.”

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