NEW bylaws have been introduced on the Wye to battle the decline of salmon stocks as population levels have continued to slump.

The new bylaws agreed by the Environment Agency, some of which will be in place until the end of 2029, mirror those introduced earlier this year by Natural Resources Wales meaning salmon and sea trout will be protected throughout the rivers Wye and Dee.

This now means all salmon caught on rod and line on the Dee and Wye must be released alive with minimum injury and delay.

It is only one part of the larger national plan to protect salmon stocks, which includes removing barriers, improving water quality, implementing better agricultural practices and addressing unsustainable water abstractions.

The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales said salmon stocks that have declined to unsustainable population levels despite significant efforts to improve their status.

The measures seek to maintain the economic value of salmon rod and line fisheries to the local rural economy while maximising the opportunity for salmon spawning in a bid to increase the future numbers of returning adult salmon to these rivers.

On the River Dee, sea trout stocks have also declined in recent years and maximum sea trout landing sizes have also been agreed.

New controls on angling methods such as the use of barbless hooks and restrictions on certain baits will also be implemented to improve the survival of released fish so that they can contribute to spawning stocks.

Measures have also been confirmed to help protect sea trout in many rivers in Wales, which will also apply to the Dee and Wye, with all rod-caught sea trout over 60cm to be released alive.

On the River Wye the new measures should be considered alongside the extensive catch controls that have been in place since 2012 and due to expire in 2021.

Dave Throup, environment manager for Herefordshire said: “We’re concerned that the number of returning adult salmon continues to decline despite the current protection measures we have in place across the Dee and Wye.

"We will work closely with NRW to monitor salmon stocks, with a view to introducing further long term protection bylaws on cross border rivers if required following consultation, in the hope of increasing the numbers of this iconic species.

“Every spawning fish matters. Even relatively small numbers of fish are crucial in order to recover stocks in as short a time as possible.

“We understand the concerns of fishermen, but only by the use of immediate and robust action, with cooperation from others, can we prevent the collapse of salmon stocks.”

Peter Gough, Principal Fisheries Advisor for Natural Resources Wales said: “All of our salmon stocks are in serious trouble and have fallen to historically low levels. We believe that the new bylaws, along with a range of other urgent measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality, improving habitats and managing potential threats from predators, are vital for the future of salmon and sea trout in Wales.”