Fight against NRW’s intention to Impose Catch and Release on Migratory Fish

Below are 3 emails 2 from Chris White who is leading the fight against NRW who wish to impose Bye-Laws to impose catch and release on all Migratory fish catches


 From Chris White

A freedom of information request was sent by Andy Nicholson to the Centre for Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) requesting details of communications between CEFAS and NRW/WG as NRW stated that they have the support of CEFAS for their bylaw proposals.  The response listed 10 emails between 12 June 2017 and 6 July 2017 these emails refer to acknowledgement of receipt of the technical case and requests for further information.   I have attached a copy of the final correspondence from CEFAS to WG dated 6 July 2017.  Note that this refers to a public consultation and yet in August 2017 WG issued a statutory notice in the London Gazette of the proposed Bylaws asking for objections. This statutory notification was based upon the original bylaw proposals and not those that were amended following the objections received following the public consultation.  We are seeking advice from Fish Legal if there is a need for WG to publish a further statutory notice before the proposed bylaws are put in place this is due to the amendments to the bylaws following the consultation.

There are some interesting observations from CEFAS in that they have taken the data on face value i.e. there has not been any challenge on how this data was produced (we should have the report on the validity of the data from our independent statistician shortly), this was their comment:

“…… However, these documents largely contained tables and figures (N.B. I have taken the raw data provided in these documents at face value), so the few comments I have on these documents have also been listed below.”

There is recognition in item 2 that part of the decline has been due to adverse weather conditions:

2. Further, particular concerns have been raised about the very poor salmon fry levels observed in rivers across Wales (and England) in 2016. This appears to have been caused by a combination of abnormally high winter temperatures and, in some cases, elevated flows, alongside relatively low numbers of spawning fish. The unusual winter conditions experienced in 2015 are consistent with climate change predictions and highlight the increasing uncertainty that stocks are likely to face in the future. The low fry abundance in 2016 is likely to result in reduced smolt output and lower adult returns in coming years.

In item 6 it deals with the need for further conservation measures and recognises the wide range of environmental factors.  The elephant in the room is the failure to mention the effect of agricultural pollution or avian predation on recruitment of salmon from egg to smolt and yet it is known from various smolt tracking exercises that up to 40% of smolts fail to reach the sea due mainly to avian predation (70% on the Aberdeenshire Dee in 2017 according to their smolt tracking survey).  Addressing this would go a long way in reversing the decline, see attached estimate of the damage due to avian predators on the Tweed system.  This is what CEFAS said:

6. The technical case thus makes a compelling case for further urgent conservation action to help arrest the decline in the status of salmon stocks, and to a slightly lesser extent sea trout, and to help restore stocks to healthier and more sustainable levels. The report recognises that both species are facing a wide range of environmental factors and stressors which are constraining productivity and stock status (and details some of the ongoing actions being made to address these). For salmon, the ongoing issues associated with poor survival at sea are a key concern, and highlight the continued importance of ensuring that conditions in freshwater are optimised.

This does not address the losses from river to sea; improving losses during smolt migration would have a far greater effect than imposing draconian measures on anglers and to a lesser degree netsmen.

There is a telling comment in item 7 which identifies that anglers are not the problem, this is what is said:

“7. NRW note that the current levels of exploitation are not the primary cause of the current low abundance and that the proposed measures will thus result in relatively modest increases in spawner numbers, although accumulated benefits would be expected over time. ……”

After 20 years of compulsory catch and release (C&R) for spring salmon there has been little or no improvement i.e. restrictions on angling has made little or no difference in reversing the decline, extending the C&R will not reverse the decline in fish stocks the perception is this being done to stop criticism i.e. it is the easy low cost option and will achieve nothing.

Item 7 then goes on to say:

“….Nonetheless, it is entirely justifiable to aim to maximise spawner numbers in the short term and, while it is clearly important to continue to address the many other factors affecting stocks (e.g. water quality, habitat), it needs to be recognised that such improvements are only likely to be achieved over the longer term. As such, it clearly makes sense to implement appropriate fishery control measures in the short term to increase the numbers of fish surviving to spawn and to facilitate recovery.”

Addressing the survival from egg to smolt will have a far greater impact on restoring salmon stocks than imposing restrictions on anglers.  The problem is neither NRW nor WG are addressing the other factors affecting salmon stocks the perception is that this is primarily due to staff and budget constraints.

In item 8 there is a recommendation to re-order the technical case and to effectively ‘bury’ the socio economic effects this is what is said: “…..with some of the other sections (e.g. wider issues, socio-economics) moved towards the back;” this implies a deliberate down playing of the socio economic effects in rural communities.

Item 10 endorses the proposals based upon the evidence presented in the technical case, which as was said at the outset has been taken on face value.  The work carried out by John Eardley has demonstrated that the NRW data is deeply flawed and skewed in order to support their proposals.  The justification for the bylaws is based upon data which is primarily from the 2014/2015 fry and parr counts which CEFAS have commented had been affected by the prevailing climate over those two spawning seasons, the reliance on Catch per unit effort (CPUE) in order to determine run size has also been skewed due to water conditions during the past few years which were not conducive to successful fishing.  It was also declared at the NRW Board meeting in Bangor that the NRW electro fishing sites were those primarily used by grilse, this has again skewed the results in favour of the NRW proposals.  There has been no mention of the improvements in fry and parr counts from the 2016 spawning season or for that matter the 2017 spawning season.  Unless avian predation and agricultural pollution is addressed there will be no improvement in salmon numbers in our rivers and the CPUE will drop as fewer anglers will be fishing, this will further skew the assessment of salmon stocks in our rivers.

Finally in item 11 there is a comment that recognises the need for stakeholder support for these proposals, the way the stakeholder objections have been dismissed by NRW means that it is unlikely that NRW will get any co-operation from its stakeholders.  This is what item 11 says:

11. In view of the detailed nature of the proposals, it seems likely that there will be a need for increased dialogue with stakeholders and enforcement effort once the measure come into force and become embedded.

Feel free to distribute this, it may be useful to send a copy to you local AM’s.

Email reply to Chris from Guy Mawle

Chris asserts that: ‘After 20 years of compulsory catch and release (C&R) for spring salmon there has been little or no improvement i.e. restrictions on angling has made little or no difference in reversing the decline,..’

and in his letter to the Minister that: ‘The evidence from 20 years of compulsory catch and release for spring salmon demonstrates the futility of the recommendations in achieving the desired outcome’.

These claims are misleading and don’t stand up to scrutiny across the country. They are similar to a comment made in an article in Trout & Salmon last year, which I responded to in the letters column, see attached. On a local level, here’s a sample of last year’s fly fishing on Isca Angling Club’s waters on the Usk: , as filmed by the club chairman; most are multi-sea winter (MSW) fish which would have entered the river before 16 June. The grilse runs have crashed.

However, the real issue for me is what action NRW and Welsh Government are going to take other than restricting angling. If it’s little or nothing, then I agree that there’s little point in pursuing mandatory c&r all season, as the gain will be relatively small on many rivers. In the face of poor marine survival, for grilse now, and extreme conditions in-river, as in November/December 2015, we need to make all the gains we can across a range of factors. Though the gains may be small individually, together they may be enough to sustain our fishing and the wider benefits.

In relation to the Usk, one gain that is being ignored by NRW, and more especially the Environment Agency, is the benefit of further restraining the Severn Estuary fisheries. A substantial proportion of the catch in this mixed stock, cross-border fishery is destined for the Usk. Indeed, I believe that the EA even intends to allow an increase in the allowable catch in 2018. I’ve formally objected to the EA byelaws myself and provided a document for the Usk Fishing Association, the Angling Trust, and others in support their own objections to these byelaws.


Email Reply from Chris White to Guy Mawle


I accept that there has been an upturn in MSW fish entering our rivers the problem is the claim that this due to C&R to 16 June cannot be substantiated.  There is very little fishing effort until after 16 June and by then the fish which enter the river in Feb/march are almost impossible to catch once they take up residence in the deeper pools.  The fish that run in May/June do get caught as do the summer salmon which arrive in July/August.  I fish on Scottish rivers (Dee/Spey/Tweed) the Dee and Spey operate C&R and have been doing for the past 20 years – their salmon are also in decline.  The sudden lost of grilse and 2 SW fish which return in the autumn tends to indicate major loss at sea.  If this has been due to climate changes there should have been a variation in the numbers returning.  In the case of the Tweed there was total collapse of the autumn run 4 years ago and this has continued into 2017.  This tends to indicate the possibility of high seas netting on the migration routes.  There are many pelagic trawlers operating in the Norwegian Sea fishing for mackerel and blue herring.  Some of these trawlers operate in pairs with bag nets which can be up to 20Km with GPS these trawlers once they find a migration path can set their nets in the same place every year, if the migration routes are those used by both mackerel and salmon then a by catch of salmon may be occurring, whether this is a deliberate of accidental catch will never be known.  Lets assume salmon are intercepted by paired trawlers using a bag net set at say 50ft when the bag is drawn closed any fish caught will be damaged (crushed) so even if they return salmon accidental caught the chance of survival will be slim.
I attended the salmon seminar in Penrith organised by the Angling Trust at which the Atlantic Salmon Trust presented a paper on the radio tracking of smolts from the Deveron it was believed that the smolts on entering the sea would turn left and head North, they don’t they turn right and head south before heading across the North sea towards Norway.  I suspect that returning salmon will follow the same route.  The work of the SALSEA project demonstrated that smolts from West coast rivers travel around Scotland to their feeding grounds in the Norwegian Sea around the Faroe Islands.  The return of adult salmon presumably follows the same route, this exposes them to Pelagic trawlers intercepting the mackerel shoals.
The MSW fish feed initially around the Faroe Islands but then head North West to feeding grounds around Greenland.  The MSW fish return prior to the operation of Pelagic trawlers and so there is no accidental catches.  In terms of evidence I have downloaded many research papers on salmon.  I have attached one paper which looks at the effect of stopping the drift nest around Norway and Russia and how the Baltic rivers recovered.  What is significant about this paper is it describes what we are seeing in our rivers i.e. the loss of grilse and 2SW salmon.
We have enough spawners returning to exceed the conservation limit on most rivers, I have attached two papers from consultants which we engaged to look at the statistical model used by the EA/NRW, I am not a statistician but the results hinge around the use of Bayesian techniques and regression curves.   I have pointed out to both NRW and the EA that the issue is the survival from egg to smolts reaching the sea, this is what needs to be addressed but there is no appetite to take on agricultural pollution or saw billed duck predation, instead they impose draconian measures on anglers.  I agree that we should return all of our fish but this should be voluntary, most already do this.  The fishmongers will continue to kill fish irrespective on any byelaws in the sure knowledge that they won’t be caught.



Extra Coarse Fishing Competition and Reminder about the Fly Fishing Demo

An extra senior coarse fishing competition has been added to the calendar on Sunday September 23rd on Cyfarthfa Park Lake, 8.30am draw fish 10am until 3pm


The Welsh Bank Fly Fishing Team are giving a demonstration in the Railway room in Cyfarthfa Park on Saturday 22nd September at 10am, all members are welcome to attend.

click heading below for full details………………….

Welsh Bank Fly Fishing Team – Demonstration

All Wales Salmon Bye-law proposals: announcement of a Local Inquiry

The Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths AM has now agreed the next steps in relation to the proposed ‘All Wales’ rod and net fishing byelaws 2017, which were submitted to Welsh Government for confirmation on 20 February 2018.

The Cabinet Secretary announced her conclusion that given “the level of response to the consultation, the number of outstanding objections to the byelaw proposals and the nature of the correspondence” it is “the most appropriate course of action to conduct a Local Inquiry which will allow independent scrutiny of NRW’s proposals.”

The Planning Inspectorate Wales has therefore been asked to initiate a Local Inquiry under the Water Resources Act 1991. At the conclusion of the Inquiry, the Planning Inspector will make a recommendation to Welsh Ministers, which will inform their final determination of the application for confirmation of the byelaws.

The Planning Inspectorate is currently contacting all those who responded to the consultation, giving further details of the Local Inquiry and what responders need to do if they wish to attend, by the 19th September.

When the details of the Inquiry (date and venue) are confirmed, we will advertise the details and update our stakeholders approximately six weeks before the Inquiry. We welcome the opportunity to present our case and evidence to the Inquiry.

The above is from NRW. Below is a explanation from the group fighting this proposal, led by Chris White….MTAA are in agreement that Chris White represents us during the inquiry

Many of you who objected to the NRW consultation may already have received a copy of this email asking you to respond to three questions:

1) I have nothing further to submit and do not wish to attend the inquiry.

2) I wish to attend the inquiry, but do not wish to speak.

3) I wish to attend the inquiry and present evidence to the Inspector.

Question 1 will mean your response to the consultation will be read by the inspector and taken at face value; your objections won’t be ignored.

Question 2 means that you just wish to observe the way the inquiry is handled; your objections will have been taken note of as per question 1.

Question 3 enables you to attend the inquiry and present your objections to the inspector; you can submit additional evidence to that contained in your original objections submitted as part of the consultation.  The inspector will question you about your evidence and you will have an opportunity to explain your concerns.

In terms of CPWF we intend to respond to question 3 and as such we will be representing our supporters but for us to do this we need your agreement to this, this wont stop you from also presenting your own evidence or attending the inquiry.  We will be working with the Angling Trust in presenting evidence to ensure that we present the same message; we can’t afford to be seen as fighting between ourselves.  You will note that there is a short deadline (two weeks i.e. 19 Sept) to respond to the above questions, this is not the time scale for submitting your evidence we wont know that until they have assessed how many people will attend and want to present their objections but our expectations is this will be a short timescale.  It was interesting to hear at our Gwynedd LFG meeting yesterday that NRW had been in contact with the Planning Inspectorate last Friday with the email from the Minister being sent to all AM’s on the Monday it seems that our lobbying via AM’s has put pressure the Minister to take note of what we have been saying.  The Minister did not have an option as objections had not been with drawn and as such she could not make a decision.  We were advised at yesterdays LFG meeting that there will be a press statement from NRW shortly.  We still have a fight on our hands and it is essential that we present objective evidence and workable solutions to the inspector as he/she can only make a judgement on the evidence presented from both sides.  The good news is we know what NRW will be submitting, things have moved on since the consultation and we now have further evidence to present which may sway things in our favour, we cant afford to loose.

Can you confirm that you agree that CPWF can represent you at the inquiry keeping in mind that this does not remove your option to attend or present evidence individually.

Senior Competition Middle Pond Sunday 26 Aug 18

5 Anglers sat by the side of Middle Pond on Sunday in torrential rain hoping for a bite.  Dia Davies managed 2 a small roach and a larger carp for a winning weight of 7lbs, second with a bag of small roach and perch was Jim Howells with 2lbs 2oz and in 3rd place was Mark Sweeney with 2lbs.

Senior Coarse Competition held on Sophie’s Pool Redhill Fishery 19/8/18 and Junior Match held on Molly’s Pool on Sat 18/818

Wow what a Fishery Redhill is, especially Sophie’s Pool.  Once again lots of personal bests were achieved.  The result was

1st Rhys Evans with 267lbs 8oz a new personal best

2nd Dia Davies with 210lbs a new personal best

3rd Mark Sweeney with 167lbs 12 oz

3 more anglers achieved weights of over 100lbs for MTAA an excellent club achievement. next competition to be held on Sunday 26th Aug on Middle Pond


On the Saturday Merthyr Juniors were treated to a day out on Molly’s pool at Redhill fishery the weather remained fine for them. Hopefully more juniors will join next year.

1st was Jayden Rees with 46lbs 13ozs

2nd was Rocco Daniels with 30lbs

3rd was April Francis with 26lbs

All the Junior anglers thoroughly enjoyed their days fishing

The overall junior champion for 2018 is Jayden Rees with Rocco coming a fine second

Game Fishing Bye-Laws

Our Chairman Gary Davies has ask to circulate the following emails as widely as possible regarding the future of the taking of salmon and sea trout.  the first is from Mike Ashwin
Chairman  –  NWATFCC  North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council, the second is the text of an accompanied email from Chris White
Thank you for sight of the Claire Pillman letter that I had heard mentioned in previous correspondence.
The claims and statements highlighted in yellow by Chris need quashing, as CFPWF have been doing.
For Wales and England the Salmon byelaw process and timetable has been materially altered since April and NRW and the Welsh Minister need to get a grip of the current situation.
In March & April NWATFCC & CFPWF sought independent advice on the validity of current River classifications methodology and presented this to the Defra & Welsh Ministers in a letter of the 9th April from the CEO of the Angling Trust calling for suspension of the proposed bylaws and revising of the classifications system that underpins and frames C & R measures.
This contributed to NRW and the EA delaying/deferring their 2018 timetable – and noticeably neither organisation provided an explanation for doing so.
From an English perspective NWATFCC are fighting very hard in the last stages of the EA Consultation to see that the recommendations we made to the Minister are realised in what we understand will be an Autumn announcement of the Minister approved 2019 English byelaws.
Nearing the finishing line !  all the best
Mike Ashwin
Chairman  –  NWATFCC  North West Angling Trust Fisheries Consultative Council
Below is the text of an email circulated by Chris White
In my recent letter to Lesley Griffiths I made reference to a letter from Clare Pillman (CEO of NRW) to Lynne Neagle AM as it was obvious due to the detail contained in the letter that it had been drafted by a fisheries officer (Gough or Mee?) with perhaps a facsimile signature added as it seems unlikely that Clare Pillman would have such detailed knowledge on the issues around the proposed bylaws. 
In the attached letter you will see the claim that the reason NRW said there would be ‘no further debate’ was due to the fact that they are waiting on a response from the Cabinet Secretary (Lesley Griffiths), this was not made clear in the NRW press statement but is a convenient excuse.  You will have seen that in all the correspondence between the Campaign for the protection of Welsh fisheries (CPWF) and LG she has resolutely refused to meet with us, the major stakeholders.  If what is said in the letter to Lynne Neagle is true precisely how LG can make a measured decision on this issue is a mystery unless she accepts at face value what NRW tell her.  We have repeatedly challenged the supporting evidence in the NRW case and offered realistic alternatives which do not require further legislation.  We are not disputing the decline in fish stocks but anglers are not the root cause and NRW in an email exchange with CEFAS said that imposing C&R will have little effect on the number of spawners – but is worth doing.  The use of the 2015/2016 poor fry and parr counts as the basis of the need to apply draconian measure makes no reference to the significant flood events that did so much damage to recruitment in this period, the 2017/2018 fry and parr counts cannot support the need for such draconian action as there are signs of recovery on several rivers.
This situation should be brought to the attention of as many AM’s as possible.  In England the EA has listen to its objectors whereas NRW are hiding behind LG’s inaction and is trying to force through legislation, not based on objective evidence but on ideology and personal beliefs. 
Anglers must stand up for their rights, if apathy rules the proposals will be rubber stamped by LG resulting in a significant decline in migratory fishing in Wales – its time for action.  Please forward this to as many anglers as possible.

Coaches Competition- Sophie’s Pool Redhill Fishery 09/08/18

MTAA coaches had a day off and fished the first of 2 competitions on Sophie’s Pool at Redhill fishery near Monmouth.

All the coaches had a great day and fishing weights were fabulous.

1st was Rhys Evans with 225lbs 8oz

2nd Dave Couzons 136lbs 4oz

3rd Malcolm Williams 119lbs 4oz

4th Dai Davies 114lbs 8oz

5th D Jones 104lbs 1oz

6th Doug Hawkins 88lbs

7th Tony Rees 84lbs 8oz

8th John Coombs 72lbs

Rhys proved that his 100 of a couple of weeks ago was no fluke by netting 225lbs of carp the biggest of which was 12lbs a fantastic result by a fantastic young angler.   Malcolm is now making a habit of netting 100+ and Tony Rees thoroughly enjoyed himself using his old Richard Walker hollow fibre glass rod ( every time Tony hooked a carp on this rod the whole rod was slowly bending it has a lovely soft action with loads of power).

Senior Coarse Competition – Change

As it stated on the Senior Coarse Competitions page the matches were subject to change and the following dates have been added or changed

19th August Sophies Redhill – extra competition

14th October changed from the canal to Sophies Redhill

MTAA Coarse Competition on Sophies at Redhill Fishery Sun 22 Jul

Today MTAA Senior coarse anglers fished Sophie’s Pool at Redhill Fishery near Monmouth.  Right from the start most anglers were catching carp.   At the end of the competition out of the 10 anglers who fished 7 exceeded 100lbs.  A special mention must go to 76 year old Malcolm Williams who caught 108lbs of carp a big first for him.

The 7 anglers were: in 7th place “Gentleman Jim Howells with 100lbs 8oz

6th was David Couzens with 105lbs

5th was Malcolm Williams with 108lbs

4th was Justin Price 109lbs 12oz

3rd was Mark Sweeney 125lbs 14oz

2nd was Rhys Evans 144lbs 4oz

1st was David Davies 148lbs 8oz

A fantastic day at a fantastic fishery

Low Water Conditions and High Water Temperatures on Wye and Usk Rivers

The following is the body of an email sent out by the Wye and Usk Foundation regarding the very hot weather conditions and the effect it is having on these 2 rivers

You might already be aware that water temperatures in the middle and lower reaches of both the Wye & Usk have reached extremely high levels. For this reason, we have taken the decision to suspend salmon and trout bookings via the Fishing Passport temporarily until water temperatures drop (downstream of Glasbury and Abergavenny respectively).

This is for fish welfare reasons and because the chances of anyone catching a salmon are almost non-existent. We will contact any anglers who have booked in advance to fish over the period of suspension to offer them the chance to re-book later in the year or a refund.

The suspension will be reviewed daily, along with the situation for coarse fishing and other areas of both rivers.

Extreme low, warm water conditions are becoming more of an issue for the rivers. WUF are installing a network of remote monitoring linked to the webcams that will give WUF, owners and anglers real-time information on water temperatures. This will enable us make quick decisions on issues such as this in the future.

If any owners would like to discuss any of the above please do not hesitate to call us.

Kind regards,

The Wye & Usk Foundation

The 2018 Fishing Passport magazine is out now!

Barbel Fishing

The Barbel Society has requested anglers to cease fishing for barbel on the River Wye whilst the current hot spell of weather continues.  This is because of the low water and oxygen levels in the water, which stresses fish and the added stress of being caught could cause the fish to expire.  The picture below was taken at Radyr weir on the River Taff yesterday morning (9/7/18) and shows that the weir is barely functioning and indicates how low the river levels are around the country.

Report on the Carp Leagues latest Competition

Report by Tom Jehu

After a very difficult few hours this morning, Shane McDonnell came 1st and I came 2nd on Cyfarthfa Lake for the 4th competition of the Thomas Phillips Memorial Carp league. We landed one fish each and no other fish were caught.

The fish that Shane landed was trailing around 60-65 yards of line. This caused a considerable amount of damage to the inside of the fishes mouth due to the rig going through one of the gill plates and snagging the fish in the lower jaw. The cut in its mouth was not bleeding but it was an open wound which required huge amount of carp care (almost a full bottle)

Can I please ask that those of you who are using these pre tied rigs, that I keep finding on the path around the lake, please take some time to watch some tutorial videos on YouTube on how to set up safely/properly or from now on people will be asked to leave our waters by the bailiffs for using shit set ups when there is no excuse for it. Tying good quality rigs is a huge part of fishing so please learn to do it! We, as a club, hold coaching sessions for those of you who are unsure of how to set up properly so there are no more excuses.

Rig checks are going to be carried out from now on while we are asking for your licences.

Thanks all

Junior Competition at Redhill Fishery 30/6/18

The junior match anglers were given the opportunity to fish Redhill Fishery on Molly’s Pond on Saturday 30th June.

all the juniors taking part had a fantastic day, the weather was brilliant, the fish were feeding well and as usual the fishery was immaculate.

The winner was Jayden with 36lbs 10ozs

2nd was Josh with 25lbs 12oz

3rd was April with 25lbs 1oz.

the picture on the left is Jayden with his winning catch

Results of Senior Competition Brecon Canal

The match was fished below the Aquaduct at Brynach Locks on an extremely hot June Day 9

1st David Davies (Odd Socks) 2lb 3oz

2nd John Coombs 1lb 14oz

3rd Paul Phillips 1lb 9oz

The next match will NOT be on the Becon Canal, its been changed to Redhill Fishery Mickeys Pool. Draw 8.30am