What’s being reported?
Reports warn of a “catastrophic” decline in freshwater fish, with nearly a third of species threatened by extinction.
Conservation groups said 80 species of freshwater fish were known to have gone extinct, 16 in the last year alone.
In UK waters, the sturgeon and the burbot have vanished, salmon are disappearing and the European eel remains critically endangered.
“Nature is in freefall and the UK is no exception: wildlife struggles to survive, let alone thrive, in our polluted waters,” said David Tickner, Chief Freshwater Adviser at WWF.
Why do we care?
Freshwater fish are important for a variety of reasons including;
- Essential for healthy functioning of rivers
- Conservation value – we have a responsibility to limit our impact on native faunal populations, cathartic and mental wellbeing
- As a source of food
- Source of income through angling and pet trade
How are we affecting fish populations?
The main ways that humans are impacting on the freshwater environment are;
- Impoundments – weirs and dams for hydropower, flow gauging, abstraction, flood risk
- Pollution – point source (such as sewage outflows) / diffuse pollution (such as agricultural pollution), sedimentation, alterations to water chemistry.
What are TRT doing about it?
At TRT one of our biggest priorities is reconnecting rivers, with both their floodplains and headwaters in order to reinstate natural processes and ensure that fish can access these necessary habitats. In 2013, TRT undertook a large fish passage at Darley Abbey on the River Derwent, modifying the existing impoundment to facilitate the passage of fish. The project opened up ~10 km of previously inaccessible habitat. We have also removed smaller barriers to fish movement, such as a series of step weirs at Oakthorpe Brook in 2020. In 2021, TRT will be undertaking a number of weir removal projects, reconnecting tributaries of the Soar and Cole with vital headwaters.