To increase salmon stocks throughout England, the Environment Agency (EA) recently published a new programme of action in the England and Wales North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) Implementation Plan 2019-2024.
In 2018, 10,328 salmon were caught by net fisheries in England. In 2019 the EA made a number of changes to reduce the exploitation of salmon by closing all major salmon net fisheries around the English coast and introducing mandatory catch and release by anglers on rivers where salmon populations are most at risk. In 2019, no salmon were reported taken by the remaining net fisheries.
The EA have been working with a number of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) to minimise unintentional by-catch by inshore sea fisheries (within six nautical miles). By-catch is when salmon are unintentionally caught by nets aiming to catch other species. New byelaws have been introduced by the Devon and Severn IFCA and Cornwall IFCA that significantly increase in the level of protection for migratory fish.
To safeguard sufficient river flows for salmon, the EA’s Restoring Sustainable Abstraction programme has changed 81 unsustainable abstraction licences on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers preventing damage, or the risk of damage. The remaining 14 licences will be modified by 2020.
The EA has also improved water quality to maximise salmon spawning success and the Water Companies’ National Environment Programme 2016-2021 is scheduled to deliver 42 improvements, 160 investigations, 15 catchment schemes and 10 water resource schemes on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers.
To restore salmon habitat and address barriers to migration, in 2018 on England’s 42 principal salmon rivers 9 weirs/barriers were removed and 8 fish passage easements were delivered, improving access for salmon to 152km of river on the Rivers Ribble, Crake, Kent, Wear, Severn, Tamar, Camel, Fowey, Taw, and Monks Brook (Lower Itchen). Over the last 5 years (2014-18) 57 barriers have been removed or altered, which has improved access to 2,398km of river catchment.
The England and Wales NASCO Implementation Plan 2019-2024 can be found at http://www.nasco.int/pdf/implementation_plans/Cycle3/IP(19)13rev_IP_EU-UK%20(England%20and%20Wales).pdf