NEW fishing byelaws covering the rivers Wye, Usk and Severn are having "little effect" on salmon and trout stocks.

The is according to the secretary of an ancient Severn Estuary fishery which aims to keep a traditional fishing method alive.

Byelaws enforcing catch-and-release practices for all salmon and trout in the Usk, Wye and Severn were announced last month.

Martin Morgan, secretary of Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery, says the byelaws are "a replacement of what applied before which had little effect on stocks".

"The byelaws have made little difference to stock levels on our rivers," he said.

"We believe the actual problems are on the rivers themselves.

"There is a real pollution problem out there."

Mr Morgan believes that Natural Resources Wales are failing to tackle what he views as the root problems - pollution, predation, abstraction and poaching.

"No matter how many salmon there are at sea or on the estuary they will always struggle when they reach the rivers," he said.

"Consequently, nothing regarding stock levels will change and this has been proven by closure of every traditional salmon fishery on the Severn estuary."

Following what has been described as "the worst ever season on record for catches", the conservation group The Wye Salmon Association is focussing its tactics on pollution control.

“We are facing unprecedented challenges including pollution from agriculture, intensive chicken farms and sewage from treatment plants pouring into the river," chairman Stuart Smith said.

"We remain hopeful that the currently unacceptable levels of pollution can be reduced.

“We are not looking for a quick fix, there isn’t one, but a mutually workable solution to return our river to its former glory, both in terms of reversing biodiversity loss, cleanliness and salmon numbers.

"A clean, healthy river allied to other actions will result in a sustainable wild salmon population.

"This fish is the equivalent to the canary in the mine."