The Atlantic Salmon is one of the most iconic species of the river Severn. This fish is anadromous, meaning it spawns and lives for the first years of its life in freshwater before moving out to the ocean for up to three years. Here, it feeds in the seas around the North East Atlantic and Greenland, and then makes the epic migration back to the river to spawn once more.
Salmon are under threat. Recent years have seen a dramatic and shocking decline in numbers. Between 1983 and 1990, salmon numbers fell from around seven million to five million fish. And while the rate of decline since 1990 has slowed, a further 33% of salmon have been lost – meaning the number in 2016 was estimated to be around 3.38 million.
The reasons for this decline seem to be complex, with numerous factors to blame including;
- Artificial barriers in the river which slow salmon down on their migration journeys, and often prevents them from reaching the best spawning habitats
- Degradation of habitat for spawning caused by pollution in the rivers
- Climate change leading to more extreme weather and affecting the flow and temperature of the rivers and seas
- Being killed as by-catch from commercial fishing, for example from mackerel fishing
- Disease spread by farmed salmon
At the Severn Rivers Trust we are doing everything that we can to save the incredible Atlantic salmon.
Our River Restoration team have been out on the river conducting scientific surveys to help us understand more about the distribution of salmon in the Severn, and how this is changing over time. We are collecting data from fish counters in the river, and we are monitoring the seasonal salmon run with the help of a wonderful team of Citizen Science volunteers.
We are removing barriers to salmon migration. As part of the Unlocking the Severn partnership, we are building huge fish passes on the main river Severn, and on the river Teme salmon can now pass the weirs at Powick, Knightsford and Ludlow.
Not only this, we are working hard to improve habitats,particularly in the Severn Uplands catchment which is so crucial to the salmon lifecycle. We are planting thousands of trees that will provide shade for juvenile salmon and keep the water temperatures cool. Trees also help stabilise the river banks preventing soil from entering the water. We have another full programme of monitoring planned for next year, which will include sampling the rivers for salmon, collecting data from fish counters and surveying key stretches to identify any more barriers. We have lots more fish passage work scoming up in the next few years too.
For more information about our work to help the Atlantic Salmon, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org