The Environment Agency is to consult on its plans to protect salmon and sea trout numbers on the Solway Firth and in the Rivers Border Esk and Eden.

Stocks of salmon continue to decline and are now of considerable concern to those who value them in our estuaries and rivers.

Sea trout are also far less abundant than they have been historically, particularly on the Border Esk which was famed for its sea trout runs.

The Environment Agency has been meeting with stakeholders over the last two years to explore options to further protect stocks to help fish numbers to recover.

The recently expired regulations restricted the fishing of salmon and sea trout either by net fisheries on the Solway Firth or anglers on the Border Esk and Eden.

Netsmen were permitted to kill 10 salmon and an unlimited number of sea trout per season.

Anglers could kill two salmon per day and two sea trout per day.

The new proposals being consulted on are intended to reduce the number of salmon and sea trout being killed and increase the number making it to their spawning grounds.

The Environment Agency’s four-week consultation, begins today, closing on February 16.

It will propose that no salmon should be killed within the estuary net fishery and the rod fisheries on both rivers.

They are also proposing that the number of sea trout killed should not exceed recent catches.

Ben Bayliss, Environment Agency senior officer, said: "We understand the social, economic and wellbeing benefits associated with participation in net or rod fishing, so we are not seeking to prevent people from taking part in these fisheries in any way.

"We are however asking people merely to return the salmon they catch and continue to exercise restraint with sea trout.

"We have a shared responsibility to protect these iconic fish.

"For our part, we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last 10 years on specific habitat improvements, helping to create the right conditions for salmon and sea trout. A small proportion of this is funded by the sale of licences for netting and angling, but habitat improvement alone is not enough.

"Stock levels are of significant concern and face increasing challenges. It is essential therefore that we all do more to maximise the number of fish reaching their spawning grounds to protect these fish."

The Environment Agency welcomes comments from the public and interested groups on this consultation.

People can comment on the proposals via the Environment Agency’s online portal at

On the close of the consultation, the Environment Agency will review all submitted comments and discuss these with the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food with a view to reaching agreement and having new regulations in place before the summer.