Emergency bylaws have put in place to protect salmon and sea trout numbers in the River Severn, after stocks hit "critically low levels."

The Environment Agency ban on draft net and putcher fishing in the Severn estuary follows a 2018 stock assessment report released by Natural Resources Wales in May, which covers 23 principle salmon rivers and 33 principle sea trout rivers across Wales, which showed stock levels in the river were now categorised as 'probably at risk'.

This means there is a strong probability that stocks are low enough to fail meeting the Severn Conservation Limit and below what is required to maintain a minimum healthy population.

In conjunction with NRW’s figures, an Environment Agency release circulated early in June states recent data is showing "a significant reduction in salmon stock levels in the Severn Estuary," with the agency now considering the introduction of emergency byelaws that curtail current numbers of salmon retained for the table by net fishermen in the estuary and anglers along the river.

Mike Morris, CEO of river charity Severn Rivers Trust said the figures were "extremely worrying."

"Whilst some of the major factors impacting numbers of Severn salmon and sea trout such as climate change and commercial fishing at sea are beyond our immediate influence, we will continue to act to try and reverse this decline in the freshwater phase of their life cycle," he said.

"Severn Rivers Trust will be doing all they can to help avoid the possibility of losing populations of these fish in the catchment if the current trend continues.”

Severn Rivers Trust say they are carrying out a wide range of project work in the Severn and Teme catchments to help water quality and fish numbers, including the creation of "fish passes" which allow Salmon to bypass barriers in the river in order to reach their spawning grounds further upstream.

Ed Noyes, Fisheries Officer added: “Overcoming specific problematic barriers to migration, managing fishing exploitation appropriately and future proofing against climate change by keeping river temperatures cool through bank side tree planting in sensitive areas are just a couple of examples of how we can really help reverse the decline of salmon in the river.

"Maximising the quality of spawning and juvenile rearing habitat through habitat restoration projects and land management advice is vital to making sure we see as many young salmon making it to sea as possible.”