British Waterways commissions major fish survey

British Waterways (BW) has commissioned The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to carry out a major, three-year electronic fish tagging survey at the Tees Barrage, at Stockton on Tees.

The study began in April this year and is being managed by CEFAS (an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and British Waterways.

Funded by BW,  the £500,000 project will provide baseline scientific data to help scientists, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts begin to understand the complex interactions and relationships around the fish, bird and mammal populations that use the Barrage as a focus for migration and feeding behaviour.

It is also anticipated that the Tees survey will add benefit to the other studies of rivers in the North East being carried out by CEFAS including the Tyne, where they are monitoring fish movements and the environmental factors that impact on fish migration.

Part of the focus for the Tees survey will be to establish data relating to seal predation and salmon and sea trout numbers in the Tees Estuary which has caused controversy amongst some angling groups.

Laurence Morgan, General Manager for British Waterways Yorkshire said: “There are great many anecdotal views about the impact of the Tees Barrage on fishing, with some anglers saying it has improved while others argue it has declined.

CEFAS are the leading experts in their field and we are confident that this study will enable them to provide reliable, scientific and indisputable data which can inform the future management of the structure and river.”

Since British Waterways took over management of the Tees Barrage in 2001, the quality of the water in the River Tees has continued to improve from its industrial and polluted past, and wildlife in general is thriving in the area.

The structure has created a major watersports destination and one of the best coarse fisheries in the North East. 

While the study is being carried out British Waterways is undertaking a variety of interim measures, as recommended by the Environment Agency, including installing a ‘penstock’ to facilitate fish movement through the fish pass when water levels are high.

Sue Longstone, Area Manager for the Environment Agency said "We are looking forward to the results of this study which will provide British Waterways with some valuable data to help inform future actions to improve salmon runs in the Tees."