The Countryside Alliance has welcomed the decision by the Environment Agency to postpone changes to the national byelaws this year which would have seen the introduction of a mandatory catch and release policy being introduced on several rivers in England.

The changes, which were due to come into force in June this year, will now not be introduced until the 2019 season. The changes will affect anglers on the following rivers where fish stocks are considered to be at risk: Lune, Ribble, Tees, Crake, Dorset Stour, Yealm, Cumbrian Derwent, Plym, Wyre and Calder.

The Countryside Alliance objected to the introduction of a mandatory policy in response to a consultation earlier this year and stressed that no changes to the national byelaws should be introduced in the 2018 season as anglers would need time to adjust.

Countryside Alliance Political Relations Manager, James Somerville-Meikle, commented: “We are pleased that the Environment Agency has recognised that there is insufficient time to introduce changes to the byelaws this year. It would have been hugely disruptive to introduce a mandatory catch and release policy in the middle of the fishing season and unfair to those anglers who had already purchased a rod licence.

“We still maintain that a mandatory catch and release policy will not help improve salmon stocks in the long run and we hope the change is postponed indefinitely.  Responsible anglers are not the cause of the problem and in many cases the time and money invested by people who fish have helped to reverse or slow the decline of fish stocks.”