FISHERMEN on the Severn Estuary battling to keep a centuries-old tradition alive have revealed that they have reluctantly accepted catch restrictions - although they say that this concession will result in everything they have built "fading away".

Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery members had been hoping to overturn a ruling from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) which imposes catch-and-release regulations during the summer.

However, they have now revealed that, on Thursday, May 20, members decided to accept the conditions at a meeting.

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NRW put the same rules in place last year, saying that killing "even small numbers of salmon could negatively impact populations which are already threatened".

They said that asking the fishermen to carefully return any salmon they catch is "necessary to ensure the species has the best chance to survive and breed".

"We are devastated not just for the loss of our living fishery, but also its effect on all we have built around the fishery over the past 25 years," said secretary Martin Morgan.

He branded the NRW regulations "cultural vandalism".

"No-one at NRW could look anyone in the eye a say that the fish we take has any significant impact on salmon stock," he said.

The National Wales:

The founding members of Black Rock fishery (L-R) Bert Beasley, Eggy Williams, Joe Morse, William Corbin, and Sam Windsor. Picture: Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery

"In accepting the licence on offer, fishing effort will drop significantly.

"The group will hardly meet. Peripheral things we have built around the fishing such as the end of season open day, advertising fishing dates for folks to watch us fish, exhibitions, group talks and demonstrations will be no more.

"So, all built by us and others over the past 25 years will now fade away and it breaks our hearts."

The National Wales:

Prince Charles talks to Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery chairman Martin Morgan about the group's equipment at the Royal Welsh Show.

Mr Morgan said that NRW statements "professing any regard for the countries or our heritage are frankly an insult to us all".

"In our view a fox has been left in charge of the chicken coop," he said.

"We will limp on, but Black Rock, Monmouthshire and Wales will be a poorer place as things stand."