Migrating salmon get a helping hand to reach spawning grounds

Every year, salmon and sea trout swim up the Coquet and other rivers to spawn. Picture by Jane Coltman
Every year, salmon and sea trout swim up the Coquet and other rivers to spawn. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Northumberland Rivers Trust is using local timber to help salmon on their annual migration.

Every autumn, thousands of salmon and sea trout return from the sea and swim up the Coquet, the Aln and some tiny streams and tributaries where they hatched in order to spawn.

But they often face barriers such as weirs and concrete bridge footings. The problem can be made worse by low river flows, as seen in the North East over recent months.

To help improve things, the Northumberland Rivers Trust has been working with volunteers and Wingates Sawmill to create innovative fish passes from local larch.

A total of eight fish passes have been constructed this summer on tributaries of the Coquet and on the Waren Burn.

Trust director Peter Kerr said “We have decided to use local larch for these passes as it last very well in water, typically for 10 to 20 years. It is also a great material to work with that can be easily adjusted and secured in place with steel brackets and fixings. It’s also important to us to work with local business and suppliers where possible.”

“Numbers of salmon and sea trout have been declining in recent years, and so we want to help ensure that every returning fish has the best possible chance of getting upstream safely.

“Over the winter we will be planting trees and fixing fallen branches in place so that the tiny fish that hatch next spring have somewhere to hide.”

“We are very grateful to the Environment Agency and the Northumbrian Water Group for supporting this important work.

“If anyone spots a barrier that fish are struggling to get past, or if they would like to help us plant trees over the winter, please get in touch via our website.”