Proposed fishing byelaws making it mandatory for fishermen to release all salmon caught in Welsh rivers have been postponed until next year.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) said the delay was because it wanted to “avoid uncertainty” for fishermen.
But the regulator said salmon stocks “are in serious trouble” and asked fishermen to release them voluntarily.
The Angling Trust welcomed the delay and said it hoped to demonstrate a voluntary approach could work well.
The proposed all Wales byelaws, which include restrictions on fishing methods to help the survival of released fish, are currently being considered by the Welsh Government.
NRW said Welsh salmon stocks remain in a “perilous condition” and that the mandatory release measure was necessary.
It said it had made its final decision and that there will not be “further debate” on the subject.
Dave Mee, senior fisheries advisor for NRW, said: “Our salmon stocks are in serious trouble and have fallen to historically low levels and the same is true of about half of our sea trout stocks.
“It’s also very important to take great care of returned fish. Fishing methods and tackle should be used that ensure fish have a high probability of survival.”
Chief executive of the Angling Trust Mark Lloyd said they welcomed the delay of “highly damaging proposals that targeted anglers rather than the polluters and fish-eating birds that kill far more fish than we could ever dream of catching”.