THE MEMBERS of a fishery which has operated on the Severn Estuary for more than 100 years have launched a petition against further regulations being placed upon them.

The future of the Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery is in doubt after a Habitats Regulations Assessment carried out by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) ruled that their practice is adversely affecting salmon stocks.

The fishermen operated under a license allowing them to catch five salmon per month during the three-month season (June to August).


Martin Morgan, secretary of the fishery, said he fears the group would "disintegrate" if they are restricted to catch and release.

"Typically, the season's catch over the past 25 years averages at around six for the entire season for the group," he said.

"[NRW] have now concluded with their partners that we are a threat to salmon stocks.

"If we are limited to catch and release, you are not going to get people going out there in the heavy rain or in bad conditions. Instead of going out maybe 60 to 70 times a season, you’ll find people will only go out six or seven times.

"Then you won’t get people meeting up as often, and the fishery will disintegrate.

"Over the last 25 years, we have build up the net house, and have promoted it as a tourism site.

"We are swimming against the tide. Our way of life, our cultural heritage is being taken away from us."

Jon Goldsworthy, operations manager from NRW said: “The tradition of lave net fishing at Black Rock has been passed down through generations and is an important part of the history and heritage of the area.

“We do not want to stop the fishermen from using lave nets at Black Rock, but we do need them to change their practice, as other netsmen and anglers have done throughout Wales.

“While we recognise that it’s only a very small number of fish caught by the fishermen each year, every spawning fish matters and even relatively small additions to the spawning stock can make a big difference in improving numbers.

“We hope to find a way to secure the future of the fishery, while protecting the sustainability of salmon stocks for future generations.”

In January, new byelaws came in on Welsh rivers enforcing catch and release for salmon on Welsh rivers due to dwindling stocks, however, Mr Morgan said estuary was exempt.

However, an NRW spokeswoman said: "The byelaws for full catch and release are for all rivers in Wales, including the Wye, Usk and Severn. In addition to this, the Environment Agency in England has emergency byelaws in place which cover the Severn Estuary."

The petition currently has more than 1,300 signatures, but Mr Morgan said he feared the impact of the coronavirus and not being able to petition on the streets.

You can find the petition at