River Wear-Invasive Non Native Species; Training Course.

27 Apr

As reported on the 15th April 2019  the Wear Rivers Trust has a current project to map and control Wear Invasive Non Native Species (WINNS) with particular focus on riverbanks. To that end the WRT can offer 2019 training in the form of a Safe Use of Pesticides Course PA1 and PA6(W). This will allow legal use of a knapsack sprayer to treat Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam safely next to watercourses. The WRT will pay for the training and in exchange will ask clubs to treat their own waters (and if possible, upstream sources to stop seeds washing down). The training will take place over two and a half days as described below;

Wednesday 22nd May (PA1 Safe Handling and Application of Pesticide) – everyone must attend this day.

Friday 31st May or Wed 5th June (PA6AW Safe Use of Hand Held Applicators in or near water) – everyone must attend one of these two days.

Mon 10th June or Tue 11th June or Wed 12th June (Assessment by City in Guilds) – everyone must attend for a half day to pass a simple practical test on one of these 3 days.

The course will take place between 9am – 5pm at the Durham Wildlife Trust HQ at Rainton Meadows, Houghton le Spring, DH4 6PU.

The cost to WRT is going to be about £600 each and those that attend will get a knapsack and all kit and ‘Round up,’ so please ensure you really can afford the time if you put a name forward.

Wild salmon stocks hit ‘lowest level’ on record after disastrous season on Scotland’s prime rivers

24 Apr


Fisheries Management Scotland said official figures to be released by the Scottish Government on Wednesday would confirm that Atlantic salmon are at a “crisis point”.

Rod and line catches are believed to have been lower than since records began in 1952, after a disastrous year on famous rivers, including the Tay, the Tweed and the Spey.

Alan Wells, chief executive of FMS, which represents the country’s district salmon fishery boards, said: “Figures for 2018, taken together with those of recent years, confirm this iconic species is now approaching crisis point.

“Some of the factors impacting on wild salmon stocks may be beyond human control.

“But Scotland’s Government and regulatory authorities now have a historic opportunity to do everything in their power to safeguard the species in those areas where they can make a difference.”

He added: “Salmon conservation must become a national priority in what is the International Year of the Salmon.

“We are calling on all regulatory authorities urgently to place a renewed emphasis on the crucial importance of salmon conservation.

 “There are many examples where positive interventions have already helped, but more must be done.”

Mr Wells said ministers and agencies needed to co-ordinate efforts to protect salmon in a way that was currently not happening.

In 2017, the total rod catch was put at 49,444 fish, a drop of 20 per cent on the five-year average and the fourth lowest figure on record. Nine out of 10 fish were returned in a bid to help stocks.

According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, wild salmon and sea trout numbers are being “decimated” on their annual migration from Scottish rivers to the waters of Greenland and the Norwegian Sea.

For every 100 salmon that leave rivers for the sea, less than five return, marking a decline of nearly 70 per cent in salmon numbers in just 25 years.

The trust has launched a project to track young salmon (smolts) going to sea for the first time in bid to learn what happens to them on the journey.

Causes for the drop in numbers are thought to include global warming affecting the feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and over fishing at sea. In Scotland’s west coast rivers, the drop in numbers has also been blamed large concentrations of parasitic sea lice in coastal salmon farms.

Andrew Graham-Stewart, of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, said ministers needed to act now to protect salmon and sea trout from the impacts of salmon farming.

Durham Hydro, Baffles'(d)

22 Apr


In a previous post (17th February 2019) reference was made to the possible installation of baffles or curtain being installed in the Archimedes screw chamber to prevent migratory fish coming into contact with the turbine blade.
As can be seen in the above photograph the baffles or curtain has now been installed. The black curtain comprises two layers of vertical plastic slats or baffles, a longer front layer and a shorter, 300mm long rear layer. This rear layer is approximately 30mm in front of the blade.
In low water both slats hang vertically down.  In higher water the front flap will be swept forward by the water, leaving the shorter rear curtain in position, hanging vertically down.  In addition two underwater cameras have been installed to help monitor the behaviour of any fish entering the turbine chamber.
Everyone involved with this issue, and particularly Durham County Council the turbine operator, hopes that this system prevents any further fish being damaged by the turbine blade.
The situation will be monitored throughout this season by everyone concerned about the conservation of migratory fish stocks.
On the brighter side, in March, 69 migratory fish used the ‘Larnier’ fish pass alongside the turbine, so at least something is working well.