FISHERMEN battling to keep a centuries-old tradition alive on the Severn Estuary have said that the statement from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) that the seals in the river Wye are "not an indication that the salmon stocks are either declining or recovering" is "unbelievable".

Members of Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery have worked the waterways of the Severn Estuary for years.

In recent times they have been in talks with NRW over the catch-and-release conditions which have been brought in to help salmon stocks recover.

"NRW's latest mantra is every salmon matters," said secretary of the Black Rock fishery Martin Morgan.

"Despite our pleas and offers to restrict our maximum catch to five salmon a season to keep our ancient fishery alive, NRW rejected the offer.

"The fishery and all built around it is dying."

Mr Morgan says that he and the other fishermen "have no problem" with seals in the estuary, but that the claims the animals are "not an indication that the salmon stocks either declining or recovering" are "unbelievable".


However, he said "when they are allowed to settle and multiply on the river system, this will always cause problems for salmon stock".

"For NRW to say it does not is frankly unbelievable," he said.

"They are burying their heads in the sand, as the evidence is there in the many pictures of the seals eating salmon.

"If the seals killing many salmon are not a problem, why are we deemed to be when we take a few from the estuary?

"Or is it that our fishermen are far easier to control?"

NRW have said that seals are a"a natural feature of the Wye estuary and are often spotted there".

"It's an example of nature in action," said a spokesperson.

"The seal is within its natural range.

"It is not an indication that the salmon stocks are either declining or recovering."