Freshwater Fish

Durham Priority Species
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Freshwater Fish Action Plan

Priority Species: Salmon, Wild Brown Trout, Eel

Priorities
1. Increase awareness and education opportunities regarding freshwater fish resources and the aquatic ecosystem
2. Ensure that stocks of salmon are maintained in the Wear and Tees catchments
3. To have a better understanding of the distribution of wild trout stocks and ensure appropriate management of natal streams, as well as adult habitat.
4. To establish baseline surveys of trout stocks for monitoring population dynamics.
5. To protect distinct populations of wild trout from the threats of stocking and loss of genetic integrity.
6. To increase eel passage through all catchments.

Salmon Targets
Vision Statement: To ensure that the stocks within the Wear and Tees catchments pass the spawning targets as set in the two Salmon Action Plans (EA)
Target Type Unit Value
1. To increase the population of salmon in the Durham BAP area as measured through the percentage of sites with FCS scores of C or above. expand % in five years 9%

Trout Targets
Vision Statement: To have a better understanding of the distribution of wild trout stocks and ensure appropriate management.

Target Type Unit Value
1. To increase the population of wild brown trout in the Durham BAP area as measured through the percentage of sites with FCS scores of C or above. expand % in five years 9%

Eel Targets
Vision Statement: To increase eel passage through all catchments in the Durham BAP area

Target Type Unit Value
1. To maintain the current range of eel in the Durham BAP area. maintain occupied km squares  tbc

Populations of migratory salmonids in the UK have fluctuated greatly over the past century, primarily due to large-scale industrial pollution. The pollution reached its worst around the mid 1900s when numbers of both sea trout and salmon dwindled in many major river systems.

With the onset of more environmentally friendly work practices, environmental projects and the associated improvements in water quality, fish stocks have recovered greatly over the last fifty years. Some rivers such as the River Wear have even experienced record catches. Durham now supports healthy populations of salmon and sea trout in all major river catchments.

Brown trout stocks are relatively unknown in many areas of the North East and therefore require more detailed investigation to determine their distribution and abundance. It is known that many of the upper catchments in the area provide good quality habitat, particularly for juvenile salmonids.

There is little data on the abundance of eels in the Durham area although it is thought that their numbers are in general decline throughout Europe.

Threats

  • The main threat to salmonids come from water quality issues, primarily pollution creating a direct impact on the fish and often reducing dissolved oxygen (DO), particularly in the estuarine environment. This is exacerbated in estuaries that have been dredged for shipping access. Dredging creates deeper water and reduced mixing of the fresh and saline water resulting in large volumes of poorly oxygenated water.
  • Poor farming practice, leading to bank erosion is also a threat causing problems with siltation of spawning gravels. Another big threat comes from over exploitation of fish stocks both by anglers and illegal fishing.
  • Possible threats to brown trout include over stocking, which can lead to farm strain fish breeding with wild fish and a loss of genetic diversity, and to increased competition.
  • Over exploitation by anglers, and habitat degradation through poor land management practice are also potential threats.
  • The main perceived threats to eel stocks come from barriers to migration, and Anguillicola crassus, a parasite that damages the eels swim bladder.
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