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Saturday, April 24, 1999 Published at 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK


Wild salmon decline

Stocks of salmon have dropped dramatically

The Environment Agency is warning that wild salmon could disappear in some parts of England and Wales.

The BBC's Environment Correspondent Margaret Gilmore: "The Environment Agency says numbers have never been so low"
Figures revealed on Saturday show numbers of the fish have never been so low.

Just 1,200 spring salmon were caught in the first half of last year, compared with 8,000 a decade ago.

Scientists from the agency say the latest figures show that new government rules to limit salmon fishing are fully justified.

The rules mean that in future all salmon caught before 1 June, whether in nets or by rod, will have to be thrown back to allow them to breed.

The Environment Agency mooted the idea of the rules last year. They were introduced 10 days ago and will be in force for 10 years

Objections to rules

Earlier this month, the agency's Head of Fisheries Dr David Clarke said global warming was heating up rivers, drying them and making them too warm for fish to breed.

He said pollution was also another factor, creating an unhealthy environment for the fish to live in.

Some people have objected to the rules limiting salmon fishing. More than one million anglers and those with permission to catch wild salmon with nets will be affected.

The rules will stop anglers from using baits in spring. They will have to use artificial flies instead.

But Saturday's figures show that more anglers than before are already voluntarily throwing back the salmon they catch to help conserve stocks.

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