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Welsh rivers ‘at risk’ of low salmon stocks

Cenarth Falls on the River Teifi Credit: ITV Wales

The seasonal sight of the salmon leap in rivers across Wales is becoming more difficult to spot due to declining salmon stocks.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) monitor the fish stocks across the country, and say most of Wales’ rivers are at risk in terms of salmon.

Autumn is the time of year when migrating fish fight their way upstream to spawn and produce the next generation of the species.

The Cenarth Falls on the River Teifi at Ceredigion are one of the best known places to see salmon, but this year the likelihood of seeing any fish is low.

The biggest issue is marine survival. So whereas we used to get sort of ten or fifteen per cent of the salmon that go out to sea coming back again, we’re now looking at one or two per cent. So whatever’s going on out at sea is the primary cause. What we’re really focused on then is trying to maximise the number of fish that get upstream to spawn, and maximise the numbers that get back out again.

– Ben Wilson, Natural Resources Wales

The falls at Cenarth are the first obstacle for salmon on their way up the River Teifi, and they must overcome the power of the water here to continue their journey.

Alongside NRW, a number of agencies are implementing strategies to improve fish stocks.

The West Wales Rivers Trust say a big concern is pollution from agriculture. To combat this issue, they’re employing farm advisors to assist farmers with identifying and fixing contamination problems.

Mark Dellar and Ian Harries are coracle fishermen on the River Teifi Credit: ITV Wales

Another approach has been trialled by the coracle fishermen on the river.

The Teifi Coracle Netsman’s Association have been fishing on the river for generations but, this year, they put back all salmon they caught in order to help boost numbers for the future.

There is a bit of a mini-crisis, or a crisis, on the salmon side of it. We’ve taken a big step this year within the fishing season, for all coracle men on the Teifi to actually release all salmon caught throughout the season, which we’ve done wholeheartedly.

– Mark Dellar, Teifi Coracle Netsman’s Association

Salmon stocks are suffering across the North Atlantic, not just in Wales, and they’re not the only ones facing a difficult season.

Find out how the seal pups of Ramsey Island have fared in the recent storms, and learn more about the autumn salmon leap, on Coast & Country, tonight at 8pm on ITV Wales.