Shetland trout stocking doesn’t make for more trout

Posted on June 11, 2021

Many studies have confirmed that stocking with farm-reared trout (or salmon) makes very little difference to numbers of fish in the wild. A very recent paper, published by Andy King and colleagues at Exeter Uni, reiterates this point, from their studies of a stocking programme in the Shetlands. The full, open access paper is here.

The story here (repeated in plenty of other places) is that the sea trout rod fishery collapsed in the ‘90’s, so a stocking programme was initiated in 2002 by the angling association, to stock out fry born of domesticated, farm-origin broodstock. Concomitant with the stocking programme, sea trout catches started to recover, so the angling association, understandably, reasoned that the stocking was part of that recovery.

The study analysed samples from 368 fish, genetically “finger printing” them to ascertain their ancestry. Two interesting things emerged in the data: first, there were distinct, genetic differences between trout from different burns (like we always say, a trout is not just any old trout) and, secondly, the researchers found very few fish of stocked origin: ”… our results suggest that the recovery of the Shetland sea trout population was probably not directly linked to the stocking programme”. More significant, they postulate, is that a recovery of sand eels (including a cessation of the sand eel fishery) made for more sea trout food. The work also identified a number of wild x stocked “hybrid” offspring which is problematical – it is known from salmon research that such “hybrids”, being less fit for the world, produce less fish for subsequent generations; so, paradoxically, the stocking programme could have been doing exactly the opposite to its aim. The Shetland Anglers Association ended the stocking programme in 2017.

Even small barriers are bad for fish

Posted on June 11, 2021

It's not just about salmon and sea trout - all fish, including resident brown trout, need to be able to move up and downstream to complete their lifecycles. Whilst some barriers in rivers occur naturally, we humans have added a staggering 40,000 artificial barriers (check out this blog post from the AMBER project) with inevitable consequences on our fish populations. 

This blog post by Peter Jones describes the results of research into small barriers on fish communities.  You can read the full paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

For more information about rivers and barriers, visit our Rivers Resource Hub on this website, and specifically this page on weirs, culverts and hydropower. 

Peat, trees, beavers and more........

Posted on May 21, 2021

Peat, trees, beavers and more........

A speech by the Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, yesterday contained a number of announcements, including this comment on beaver reintroductions:

After a successful release in Devon, we are now looking positively towards the reintroduction of beavers and further releases of this iconic species in England. Our consultation, to be issued later this summer, will outline our approach to this, and the management of beavers in the wild. We will particularly consider reintroductions where the benefits are clear, where there are strong partnerships and agreement from stakeholders. Our approach will acknowledge the potential of beavers as a keystone species whilst working closely with local communities.

Check out our Beaver Resource Hub for information on beavers, their impact and management. WTT will, of course, be responding to the consultation and we will publish our response on the website.

EA’s Fish Monitoring Report 2020 for the Test & Itchen

Posted on May 19, 2021

EA’s Fish Monitoring Report 2020 for the Test & Itchen

EA has just published its (annual) report on its monitoring of the fish populations in 2020, obviously impacted by Covid. It’s an interesting read. Accepting the vagaries of sampling fish in rivers, abundance of young trout and salmon was relatively low but looks like some really good news in the number of adult sea trout and salmon returning in that year to both rivers. The report discusses whether this might be linked to greatly reduced boat traffic in the English Channel, brought about by Covid.

Good for the Granta - river habitat project in Cambridgeshire

Posted on May 12, 2021

Good for the Granta - river habitat project in Cambridgeshire

Major work has just been completed by the Wild Trout Trust working with the Babraham Research Campus on 1km of the River Granta in South Cambridgeshire. The work, which was funded by the Environment Agency, aims to improve habitat for wildlife, provide a better view of the river for walkers and improve the ability of the river to cope with floods and droughts.

Photos of the project before, during and immediately after the work are available here.

Chris Chapman, Director of Campus and Facilities at the Babraham Research Campus said, “This work came about further to an Advisory Visit by the Wild Trout Trust, and we realised that we could work together for the good of the river. The Campus estate is a beautiful natural asset, which we are dedicated to maintaining, preserving, and enhancing. The river is a major asset which is enjoyed by those that work here as well as the local community. We are very much committed to taking care of this precious chalk stream and were very pleased to collaborate with the Trust to enable this work to go ahead.”

Our journal, Salmo Trutta 2021

Posted on May 08, 2021

Our journal, Salmo Trutta 2021

Our members' journal, Salmo Trutta, is now out and has been posted to members. If you are a member and haven't yet received a copy, please contact Christina in the WTT office. 

Join as a member to receive a copy - your membership pays for the journal and, more importantly, helps us to deliver more practical advice and habitat improvement for our rivers, their trout and wildlife. 

Salmo Trutta is a high quality, no adverts print journal. It is not available on line but by popular request we have made two articles available as PDFs so that they reach the widest possible audience. 

Did you know, trout grow on trees?

Posted on May 06, 2021

Did you know, trout grow on trees?

This sounds a bit odd, but it is true. WTT Conservation Officer Jonny Grey has been working with volunteers from The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), planting trees on rivers banks. 

In this blog post on the TCV website, he explains why trout grow on trees. 

Panorama programme on sewage pollution

Posted on April 13, 2021

Panorama programme on sewage pollution

This Panorama programme was really good to spread word to a wider audience, but, sadly, it wasn’t news to those of us working in rivers. Official statistics verify that recorded serious pollution events from the water industry have not decreased in at least the last decade.

WTT’s Conservation Officers offer a unique, national perspective on England’s rivers, spending as they do around 1000 professional days by and in the water: they widely see evidence of pollution of rivers, whether from sewage, agriculture or other industry. When we see issues, we report them to the regulatory agencies, we record them in advisory visit reports; in normal years, we offer an expert view directly to the Secretary of State and we join with other NGOs to inform policy makers. We encourage members to engage with their MPs to gain political support. It is a source of frustration to us and to anyone who cares about rivers that the EA, NRW, Ofwat and, by extension, Water Companies, are not directed by our politicians to treat water quality as a priority with the necessary investment in infrastructure and funds for enforcement of regulations.

Good river condition is a function of decent water quality, quantity and habitat. We make no pretence that our kind of habitat-focused work will solve the ills of a river running with pollution or too little water. But our kind of work is a great way to get local people practically involved in their river and get them started on a journey that in time sees them tackling those three vital components of a good river.

Sportfish Virtual Show 17-18 April

Posted on April 08, 2021

Sportfish Virtual Show 17-18 April

WTT Director Shaun Leonard will be taking part in the live panel discussion as part of the Sportfish Virtual Show. The discussion takes place 15.15 to 16.00 on Sunday 18 April.

The show takes place over the weekend of 17-18 April and features both live and recorded events with guests including Charles Jardine, Paul Procter and Tiggy Pettifer. 

The full programme is available on the Sportfish website, along with links to the Sportfish Facebook page and YouTube channel. 

The Irish Society’s Festival of Game Fishing - recordings of presentations

Posted on April 06, 2021

The Irish Society recently ran an excellent day of talks, with some involvement from WTT’s Gareth Pedley. There are really interesting presentations from Ken Whelan on salmon, from Richard Kennedy on the intriguing (and mighty) dollaghan trout of Lough Neagh and from Robert Rosell on sea trout tracking work along Ireland’s north east coast. (Agenda here)

The presentations have been recorded and are available on the Irish Society website  Very well worth looking at! 

Dunston Beck Project in Lincolnshire

Posted on April 06, 2021

Dunston Beck  Project in Lincolnshire

A terrific project on the limestone Dunston Beck in Lincolnshire has put this arrow-straight river into a more natural shape, together with lots of floodplain features.

Work on the 3-hectare site has turned a former arable field into diverse floodplain wetland and meadow habitat allowing wildlife to thrive. The work was led by the Wild Trout Trust and involved collaboration between the landowner, Beeswax Dyson Farming, the Environment Agency, the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Not only will the project benefit fish species such as brown trout and aquatic plants and invertebrates, but the back channels and ponds will be great for bird species such as snipe.

Project manager for the Wild Trout Trust, Tim Jacklin said, “We’re delighted to have been involved in the development and delivery of this project along with our project partners. Creating more natural areas alongside our rivers and streams has so many benefits. As well as making them simply nicer places to be, it provides more space for water and better wildlife habitats, making our landscapes more resilient to climate change and boosting biodiversity. It will be great to see this site develop as the wildflower seeding and native planting becomes established.”

Wild Trout Trust Auction 2021 Result

Posted on April 06, 2021

The Wild Trout Trust Spring Auction closed on 29 March and we have raised a fantastic £81,200. This is the second best ever result and we are amazed and delighted! Thank you to all the very generous donors and bidders and to the many people who helped to promote the auction.

We promise to wisely spend the money raised on practical advice and river habitat projects for wild trout.