This newsletter is a quarterly update on some of the fisheries work undertaken by the Environment Agency and other partners including the Rivers Trusts, within the South West region.
Fish passage improvements
Our Cornwall fisheries team employed APEM to undertake assessments for fish and eel passage at 11 weir sites and 24 hydrometric structures owned by us. The weir sites were selected on catchments that are failing for fish under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Further action is being undertaken on the River Yealm where two weirs in Storridge Woods are to be removed in 2013. Feasibility studies have been completed on weirs at Blachford on the Yealm and Cann Weir on the River Plym. Improvements are being made at the highest priority hydrometric sites for fish and eel passage.
A weir at Lower Storridge, River Yealm
Two major fish pass projects at Colleton on the River Taw and Tipton St. John on the River Otter are nearing completion in Devon. It is hoped that the passes will sort out problems with WFD fish failures on both river systems, opening up many kilometres of additional spawning grounds to migratory species including salmon. Both projects have been slightly delayed as a result of extreme flows and flooding during November and December, but are due for completion over the coming months.
Colleton fish pass construction on the River Taw
As part of the Somerset Eel Passage Programme we have installed eight tilting weir eel passes and designed eel passes for 14 tidal outfalls, four gauging weirs and our Gold Corner Pumping. We have also installed an eel trap at Blagdon Reservoir in partnership with Bristol Water to improve passage upstream. We will provide future updates on the development of these eel passage schemes as they are installed.
In South Wessex, two fish passage projects at Crockway House on the Frome and Grimstone on the Sydling Water are being planned. Crockway House is only passable to fish in extreme high flow events. We have collaborated closely with landowners and interested parties, and hope that a Larinier fish pass will be built and operational by the end of October this year. It will allow free passage for salmon, brown trout, eels and dace. At Grimstone, there is good spawning and juvenile habitat upstream, but salmon cannot access this because of the weir. We would like to utilise an existing by-pass channel around the weir, creating a natural-like fish pass that will allow year-round passage for all fish species. Work is still ongoing with Natural England, the landowner and other interested parties and we hope to proceed with a partnership project this summer, involving the Westcoutry Rivers Trust and the Frome, Piddle & West Dorset Fisheries Association.