Natural Resources Wales approves plan to protect vulnerable fish stocks

Natural Resources Wales approves plan to protect vulnerable fish stocks

Photo: Natural Resources Wales

Natural Resources Wales has approved an action plan to help protect fish populations from the impact of predation by fish-eating birds (in this case great cormorant and goosander).

NRW’s board approved the action plan after careful consideration of the recommendations to NRW from the Fish-eating Birds Advisory Group on how vulnerable fisheries and fish stocks can be protected from predation pressure while continuing to conserve fish-eating birds.

The advisory group comprised representatives from NRW, RSPB Cymru, Welsh Ornithological Society, Afonydd Cymru, Salmon and Trout Conservation Cymru, Angling Trust, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and were advised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and two independent experts on fish and avian population dynamics and wildlife conflict resolution. Representatives from Welsh Government, Natural England and NatureScot participated as observers.

Acting on the advisory group’s recommendations, NRW’s action plan will:

  • Explore the use of catchment-based licences for better coordination in control of fish-eating birds to help conserve vulnerable fish populations.
  • Set thresholds for controls that ensure the long-term conservation status of bird populations.
  • Facilitate and deliver targeted measures to protect “at risk” (and “probably at risk”) stocks at periods when they are most vulnerable, especially at known pinch points where smolts are most vulnerable.

This will include measures such as:

  • Improving river connectivity by removing barriers and improving down-stream smolt migration.
  • Providing improved in-river habitat to provide cover for fish.
  • Supporting non-lethal techniques to scare birds and protect fish.

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