Thanks for posting Wylye, I seem to have taken the wormery thread into a totally different area - It was a laudable effort by the EA but i seem to remember that it was more about showing the "world" how clean our rivers were rather than establishing a sustained salmon run.
The two tend to go hand in hand do they not? No clean water means no salmonids and to have salmonids you have to have clean water. Actually it wasn't the cleanliness or otherwise of the water but rather the fact that historically salmon used to spawn in the lower reaches around Sunbury and Shepperton rather than where we were trying to get them to go which was up into the tributaries. The suitable gravels were no longer there in the river and it would have been impossible to recreate them as the river had been regulated out of all recognition. Weirs etc, as well as heavy boat traffic.
Of course the PR that we had the only capital city in Europe with salmon swimming through it made a good story and lets face it, only 25 years before the first introductions the tidal Thames was biologically dead. No harm in showing what can be done if you try.
Joined: 09 Apr 2006 Posts: 5172 Location: Somerset. UK
Posted: Fri May 08, 2020 8:42 pm Post subject:
Eventually it all foundered due to lack of funds and lack of interest. I was present when the last batch of salmon parr went into the Kennet in 2011 just before I retired. A noble aim that saw the expenditure of millions and resulted in nothing. It was obvious that it was never going to be possible to establish a self-sustaining run of salmon and that was the final nail as it were.
I found that a very interesting reply. Thanks for posting.
Sorry if this is a daft question, but is there a reason why the the mature, returning fish were unable to establish a self sustaining run? Was it simply a case that they were unable to naturally produce enough offspring themselves to sustain a run without additional Parr being added by the authority or was it something else?
Alan _________________ Member of ...
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If you see me on the bank, say hello... from a safe distance!
It was mainly a question of lack of suitable spawning sites that would be accessible to the fish. The Kennet was identified as having the most suitable gravel as well as having decent habitat and water quality. The problem was getting the fish there. I can't remember the exact number of locks and weirs on the Thames just to get the fish to the Kennet but it is in the region of 20 from the tideway. Then there are 17 on the Kennet itself which is navigable or linked to the Kennet & Avon Canal for much of its course. The furthest upstream weir with a fish pass on it is at Marsh Benham to the west of Newbury.
There was an attempt made early in the programme to establish some natural spawning on the upper river when a few adults caught in the weir pool at Molesaey were trucked up to a hatchpool in Axford, downstream of Marlborough. Those fish disappeared shortly after they had been released and by some strange coincidence the local pub had fresh salmon on its menu at the same time. This was long before farmed salmon! The local river keeper who I knew well was a noted "countryman", eg rogue! THAT was an experiment that wasn't repeated.
Finally, there simply weren't enough fish. A lot of money needed to be chucked at the programme to make it work. The best return that we caught at Molesey was the third year that returning fish were found and that was only just over 100. To get a viable run from scratch we needed to stock hundreds of thousands of parr rather than the 50,000 or so that were being released. Given the obstacles I very much doubt we could ever have created a self-sustaining run of salmon.
That was very short-lived Alan when it was realised that the only places you would have any chance at all of catching one on rod & line was in the weir pools and most of those were controlled by Thames Conservancy, latterly the NRA through the weir permit which was open to anyone. On those weir pools where the permit did not apply because the bank fishing was not possible it was perfectly possible to fish from a boat as long as it was licenced with TC and then the NRA. Fears were groundless.
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