Reconnecting The Salmon Rivers Of Wales 2022-23

Afonydd Cymru were delighted to be a partner in a £500,000 project launched in April 2022 to ease fish migration in five famous Welsh salmon rivers.

The 17-month project was led by Swansea University and funded by the Nature Networks Fund, which is supported by the Welsh Government and administered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales. Its objective was to enable the removal of 17 barriers in the Eastern and Western Cleddau, the Usk, Tywi and Teifi, reconnecting 141km of river in total.

Reconnecting rivers is one of the most effective salmon conservation methods available. It allows adult fish returning from the sea to penetrate entire river systems, enabling their offspring to make use of more quality habitat and thereby boosting their numbers.

Barriers such as weirs impede migratory fish species both upstream and downstream, including juvenile salmon migrating out to sea. Where the young fish are held up on their journey they become vulnerable to predation and in years of low flows, losses can be extremely high.

And it is not just salmon that benefit. Many other aquatic species such as the freshwater pearl mussel, sea trout, sea lamprey, white-clawed crayfish, and the European otter require free-flowing rivers and are negatively affected by barriers.

Other partners in the project include West Wales Rivers Trust, The Wye & Usk Foundation, Afan Valley Angling Club, Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales.

In June 2022 a two-day “Barrier Removal Bootcamp” was hosted by the Wye & Usk Foundation in Talgarth, near Brecon for the project’s partners. It included hands-on training on barrier monitoring using the Barrier Tracker app, barrier impact assessment and surveys on habitat, macroinvertebrates, sediment assessment, and collection of water samples for eDNA monitoring.

A final report of the project’s accomplishments will be published soon but in the meantime…..

Some of the work completed…..

One of the easements completed by the West Wales Rivers Trust was the removal of a weir on the Cleddau Ddu (tributary of the Eastern Cleddau) in September 2022.

In October 2022 the trust completed an easement on the Nant Esgair (Teifi catchment). A rock ramp was installled to raise the water height below a weir, enabling much easier upstream migration.

Meanwhile, in the Usk catchment the Wye & Usk Foundation have removed a weir on the river Honddu.

Posted: June 22, 2022