Carmarthen Coracle and Netsmen's Association

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Coracles have been used to fish the River Towy (Welsh: Tywi) for centuries. The Carmarthen Coracle and Netsmen's Association was established in 1938 to help preserve Carmarthen's oldest tradition.

The association has three main activities:

  • Continuing the centuries long tradition of coracle fishing on the River Towy, using some of the few remaining coracle fishing licences
  • Raising awareness of the issues threatening the continuation of coracle fishing, most notably water pollution introduced to the watercourses
  • Educating the wider public on the fascinating history of the Towy coracle, the local coraclemakers and coracle fishing

Coracle fishing continues to be under threat. There are now just 21 coracle fishing licences available each year; about half of these are for the River Towy. Recent (2020) byelaw changes, following a public inquiry - to which the Carmarthen Coracle & Netsmen's Association gave evidence to in 2019 - have done nothing to counter this threat, with the fishing season length cut almost in half whilst licence costs remain unchanged. However, the coracle fishermen of the Towy continue to fish for sewin (sea trout)*. In recognition of the unique history behind coracle fishing, following many years of hard work by the Carmarthen Coracle & Netsmen's Association and other parties, in 2017 West Wales Coracle Caught Sewin and West Wales Coracle Caught Salmon were awarded EU Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status - which is a legal protection to protect and promote regionally significant food products.

*Coracles have traditionally also fished for salmon, however the 2020 byelaw changes mean that all salmon is now catch and release

One of the biggest threats to coracle fishing in Wales at the moment is pollution. Over the past few years there have been some high profile pollution events, with slurry run offs from agricultural land being a sadly too frequent occurance. The Association is very active in reporting these to Natural Resources Wales, the local governing body, and raising awareness of this serious issue which not only affects all fishermen but also has serious consequences on the wellbeing of local wildlife and the environment.

The Association has been working hard in recent times on their education campaign, to teach the wider public all about the Towy coracle, the history of the local coracle fishermen and coracle fishing traditions. As well as working with local youth groups and schools, in recent years they have played a key part in the installation of information boards in Carmarthen and setting up the Quay Centre community hub with other local organisations.

The Association has also benefited from Heritage Lottery Funding which has gone to producing an ever lasting archive of resources on The Carmarthen Coracle and associated topics. In late 2019, a booklet titled "The Carmarthen Coracle" was published which serves as an introductory guide to the Towy coracle, how they and coracle nets are made, how coracle fishing is done, coracle life and culture and some of the local coracle families. These resources and many others can be accessed through People's Collection Wales.

Finally, the Association play a key part in the annual Carmarthen River Festival, organising and running the coracle regatta. This usually takes place in late June or early July.

Contact the Carmarthen Coracle & Netsmen's Association


Email/phone: Julie Rees - email [email protected] or phone 07974 772393

More information

The Towy (Tywi) coracle

Coracle fishing

People's Collection Wales - The Carmarthen Coracle