The Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries Act

Written by keri gardner
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The Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries Act
Commercial fisheries in the U.K. adhere to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act of 1975. (Fishing Trawler, Dartmouth, Devon image by Tourmalet06 from

The United Kingdom (U.K.) created the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act in 1975. Both recreational and commercial fishermen must follow this law in catching salmon and other freshwater fish. The act encompasses fishing regulation, as well as illegal obstruction of migratory pathways and prohibited modes of destroying fish. The act allows the salmon to maintain an environmentally stable population and support the fishing industry.


Conditions of rivers and lakes rely on fish as indicators of conditions. Regulating waterways with the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act helps maintain a stable environment for both fish and fishermen. The Environment Agency Wales regulates this law. Known as a powerful environmental regulator in Europe, the agency plays an important role in conservation and ecology.


The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act encompasses several broad environmental issues. The Office of Public Sector website contains the entire written law, which regulates all of the following situations:

• Prohibition of certain modes of taking or destroying fish • Guidelines for obstructions to passage of fish • Times of fishing, selling and exportation of fish • Fishing licenses • Administration and enforcement


The Act specifically outlines certain prohibited modes of taking or destroying fish. It prohibits certain implements used to catch fish, such as snares, firearms, crosslines and spears. Also, the act prohibits the possession of roe, defined as eggs or egg-filled ovaries of fish. It does not allow disruption of spawn, spawning fish or beds, and nets must not cross 3/4 of the width of the water.


Many different techniques obstruct migratory travels of fish, including fixed engines, any nets fixed to the soil or immobile objects, and weirs---fish traps made from stone or wooden stakes embedded into the river bottom or banks. Weirs trap fish when tidal waters recede. The Act outlines penalties for any obstructions or injuries to migratory fish, even regulating power sources, such as dams.


All fishermen must adhere to annual close seasons and times. Guidelines include the taking of freshwater fish, kills---or attempts to take or kill---any freshwater fish in any inland water, or fishing for eels. The law permits the use of eel baskets not exceeding 10 inches in diameter at any time. The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act prohibits buying, selling and exporting salmon and trout caught during closed seasons.


The water authority issues licenses for both fish and eel. Fishermen must renew licenses on a regular basis, and the agency regulates the number of fishing licenses. Fishermen in areas regulated by a system of licensing must have a valid license. A fishing license for the use of an instrument to catch salmon allows usage for trout, eel and other freshwater fish. Additionally, the Act regulates fish-rearing licenses.


The water authorities enforce the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act. Water bailiffs, appointed by the water authority, have the right to examine any obstructions, bait, instruments or boats. The bailiffs may seize any fish and any instrument, vessel or vehicle in pursuance of the Act. Those with required warrants may enter lands or houses for the preservation of species.

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