Witnessing a salmon swimming in the River Wye might become a distant memory within a decade, as conservationists foresee a potential species “apocalypse.”
The Wye Salmon Association expresses profound apprehensions about the river’s condition as the imminent fishing season approaches.
Despite the opening of the new Wye salmon fishing season on March 3, the WSA underscores the gravity of Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) dire warning. Without swift and substantial interventions, NRW predicts the river could be devoid of salmon within ten to twenty years.
The WSA emphasises that they have repeatedly alerted authorities to this impending crisis over the years.
In a statement, they said: “Salmon are at the heart of the biodiversity of the Wye Valley.
“Without them, the populations of many other species of all types will continue to crash.”
They cited NRW Wales Fisheries Forum, held online on January 31, which concluded “Atlantic salmon and sea trout in Wales are declining at unprecedented rates and predictive modelling indicates that many populations may be threatened with extinction within two decades if current conditions remain”.
The forum suggested that efforts which may reverse this include removing constraints such as fishing.
“Their efforts, to date, to achieve this recovery are an abject failure,” Stuart Smith, chairman of the WSA, said.
“Over the last twenty years an estimated £20 million has been spent.
“Their proposals are more of the same and clearly this is not an answer.
“NRW reigns over the Wye, one of the most environmentally classified rivers in the UK (SAC and SSSI status) which is also one of the most polluted rivers in the UK.
“Salmon stocks, a key indicator species, have been declining for more than two decades, with no signs of a reversal. The 2021 season recorded the lowest salmon catch in the river’s history.
“We are facing an apocalypse for Wye salmon.
“They are overseeing and effectively encouraging the potential extinction of the salmon in the Wye.”
Ben Wilson, principal fisheries advisor for NRW said: “In order to help inform our understudying of, and response to, the pressures salmon face in Wales, we have commissioned an evidence report to into the genetic and demographic risks that small populations face.
“We will be publishing this report shortly.
“NRW is committed to protecting and restoring our salmon stocks in Welsh Rivers and our Salmon and Sea Trout Plan of Action’sets out the comprehensive steps we and our partners are undertaking to address the many pressures that salmon and sea trout face.”
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