Monday, November 2, 2015

Autumn Means Jumping Fish

We called in to the Heron Corn Mill this week and I found myself being in awe at seeing the migrating Atlantic salmon and Sea trout jumping up the fish pass to get to the spawning grounds at Ellers Meadow and beyond on the River Bela .
Heron Corn Mill Fish Pass
For hundreds of years fish were unable to reach spawning ground further up the River Bela, but then in 1990 a fish pass was put in by the Environment Agency. By looking down on the fish pass from the viewing area it seems a very simple construction, however it is made up of a series of 12 steps with pools to allow the fish to have a rest areas before they take the next leap. This engineering feat made a significant conservation gain overnight and the Bela is now recognised locally as being a very important river for spawning Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout.  
Although migrating fish can now move up the stream to their spawning ground there are still parts of the River Bela that need better habitat management to maintain and increase fish populations. The river fencing work we did last November at Ellers Meadow with a more extensive livestock system means another part of the jigsaw is now getting the right management. Like the fish pass the answer to better river management is simple, fence the riverbanks to cut agricultural pollutions levels and get the right land management adjacent to our rivers. Although the river has only been fenced a year, the river banks at Ellers are already look more stable and agricultural pollution and riverbed disturbance has ceased. Although the fish pass happen 25 years ago, it is only now that the habitat management at  Ellers has changed for the better! 
Note: If you would like help managing your river contact your local Rivers Trust. We worked closely with South Cumbria Rivers Trust and Milnthorpe Anglers Associations to fence off our river.

Ellers Meadow River Bank Summer 2014

Ellers Meadow River Bank November 2015

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