Hundreds of school children join Avon Water Salmon Science Project

Education project celebrating the return of the salmon to the Avon Water

Filed under News
Date posted: Friday, 20 January 2017

Almost 500 schoolchildren from across the Avon Valley have embarked on an exciting new education project that will celebrate the return of the iconic Atlantic salmon to their local river, the Avon Water.

The ‘Salmon Homecoming’ project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and the Greggs Foundation, and is delivered by the Clyde River Foundation. It follows the recent completion of the Avon Barriers project which saw two obstacles to migratory fish made passable by the creation of fish passes on the sites of Millheugh and Ferniegair Weirs near Larkhall and Hamilton, South Lanarkshire.

Children from 21 Primary Schools attended a special launch event for the project at Glasgow Science Centre this week where they learned about the colourful history of salmon in the Clyde and conservation measures that are now in place on the Avon.

Wester Overton learn how to operate a classroom hatchery for their brown trout eggs at the launch of the Salmon Homecoming at Glasgow Science Centre on 19 January, Clyde River Foundation
Wester Overton learn how to operate a classroom hatchery for their brown trout eggs at the launch of the Salmon Homecoming at Glasgow Science Centre on 19 January, Clyde River Foundation

Dr William Yeomans, Catchment Manager at Clyde River Foundation explains, “In the first phase of the project children will care for a close relative of the salmon – the brown trout – in classroom hatcheries before releasing them into the wild.”

He continues, “They will work closely with scientists from the Clyde River Foundation to raise their fish and will learn about fish biology and factors affecting survival in the wild. Brown trout, rather than salmon, are being reared because they are already present throughout the Avon catchment. This will allow us to monitor the salmon's natural recolonisation of their former spawning grounds when they return."

Salmon Homecoming will connect children with their local rivers, from their industrial history to the exciting wildlife they support. It will promote continued stewardship of the natural environment in light of the recent significant investment in improving conditions for migratory fish.  

Leaping salmon, Malcolm Muir, South Lanarkshire Council
Leaping salmon, Malcolm Muir, South Lanarkshire Council

The flagship engineering project that saw the creation of fish passes at Ferniegair and Millheugh Weirs in 2016 has led to the upgrading of Water Framework Directive status of eight rivers, six of which will achieve high status. It is hoped that the first salmon will be visible later this year, leaping up the Avon Water and associated tributaries, as they make their way back from the Atlantic Ocean, following an absence of over century. 

The fish passes project was funded by Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s (SEPA’s) Water Environment Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and was delivered by Rivers and Fisheries Trust Scotland (RAFTS) in association with South Lanarkshire Council, Clyde River Foundation, anglers and local communities.

The completed fish pass at Ferniegair Weir, Larkhall, Rivers and Fisheries Trust Scotland
The completed fish pass at Ferniegair Weir, Larkhall, Rivers and Fisheries Trust Scotland

“The watercourses of the Clyde and Avon Valley are an important and unique habitat for native wildlife”, explains CAVLP Manager Donna Marshall.

She continues, “The return of Atlantic salmon to the upper Avon after a century or more, following improvements to allow them to pass two weirs which previously blocked their passage upstream, provides a particular impetus for ‘Salmon Homecoming’ in 2017.”

The multi-phase project will span six months and will culminate in a series of public events in which local communities will be invited to celebrate the improvements the river and the anticipated return of this iconic species to the upper reaches of the Avon.

For more information, visit www.clyderiverfoundation.org/salmon-homecoming.

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