As wet UK winters bring higher water levels, the salmon run is now in full swing. Head out to a weir on the Trent and you might just spot salmon leap at impressive heights.
The visit might not be without upset, as not all salmon will make the jump and return to their spawning grounds. While seeing salmon return is heartening, footage of struggling fish is the reason why we’re advocating for weir removals, fish passes and wider river restoration!
Though not a principal salmon river, the Trent has a vital part to play in the recovery of ever-decreasing salmon populations. The Missing Salmon Alliance reports an 80% decline in salmon in the last 25 years and predicts the extinction of the fish in many parts of the world if current trends continue.
As the juvenile nursery and spawning ground, rivers play a crucial part in re-establishing these numbers. A healthy river supports healthy salmon populations, which in turn support a rich and diverse web of river life.
So, what can be done locally?
- Weir removals – Ambitious weir removals need to happen on all the weirs that are difficult for migratory fish to pass. Colwick fish pass is an example of positive action. It is set to become the largest fish pass in the country opening up the Trent catchment for much greater fish migration.
- Habitat improvements – Gravel on the bed provides important areas for spawning, then channel and riparian work such as tree planting and introducing woody material into the watercourse can provide refuge and feeding grounds for juvenile fish.
- Pollution reduction – our rivers are OVERWHELMED with nutrients and diffuse pollution. Pollution from agriculture, sewage, urban and industrial run-off all affect the salmon’s ability to survive in rivers, particularly young fish.
- Collaboration – supporting salmon means supporting river health, we need to work together, at a catchment-scale.
📸 Chris Ritzmann – with many thanks, such records are invaluable.