'Volunteers have vital role to play in River Severn fish stocks' - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust - The Malvern Observer

'Volunteers have vital role to play in River Severn fish stocks' - Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

Malvern Editorial 2nd May, 2023   0

VOLUNTEERS being trained to work on the improvement of fish stocks in the River Severn and Teme ‘have an important role to play’.

The message came from the Severn Rivers Trust delivered to the Malvern branch of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust at a recent meeting.

Alice Moore, volunteering officer for the trust emphasised that volunteers had a vital role to play in conservation projects for the people and wildlife of the area, at the meeting to discuss volunteer wildlife schemes.

The meeting with the two trusts delved into recent wildlife projects in Worcestershire to shed light on the work of conservationists and volunteers in the region.

Various projects and schemes were discussed at the meeting including ‘Unlocking the Severn’. This is a partnership project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the EU Life Programme which sought to restore connectivity on the rivers, allowing fish to move upriver from the sea to their traditional spawning grounds.

This had become increasingly difficult because of the construction of weirs and other river flow control measures.

The project, originally discussed in 2011, involved extensive monitoring of shad fish stocks carried out by local volunteers and Worcester University students.

Shad were once more common than salmon in the Severn and accounted for more than one third of the fish caught every year. A member of the herring family, Shad live at sea, returning every year to spawn in fresh water.

Work to modify Powick Weir on the River Teme, near Worcester began in 2018 with the construction of fish passes at Diglis, both completed and opened in April 2021.

Another fish pass was developed in Tewkesbury in 2022.

Volunteers and citizen scientists also helped collect data on shad migration, identifying daily fish numbers and 25 spawning sites.

Valuable data helped to verify the presence of other species in the Severn and the collection of genetic material was sent for laboratory analysis.

Help from citizen scientists in this project enabled large data collection which would not be otherwise possible, increasing local understanding and appreciation of the shad run and the river’s wildlife habitats.

A water monitoring project on the River Teme catchment area was one part of a nationwide project sponsored by the Citizen Scientists and the Catchment Thinking Cooperative, Water Breakthrough Challenge and United Utilities (NorthWest Water) who’s project aim is to use volunteers to improve the health of rivers.

The sponsored scheme saw more than 30 organisations monitoring eight different catchment areas across England and Wales, providing specialist support in various areas of expertise, including supplying monitoring equipment, training and technical support, as well as volunteer coordinators.

The River Teme is an important catchment area, providing data on bacterial pollution, phosphate level hotspots, pollution from livestock and sewage outlets.

Volunteers have taken part in litter surveys, observing river obstacles, ‘outfall’ monitoring sites, phosphate testing, river fly monitoring, farm run off and pollution sites.

Another vital function of volunteers and citizen scientists is the provision of third party data which can be given to water regulators and water companies, leveraging them into helping improve the health of our rivers.

The next meeting with Malvern’s branch of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust will be at the Lyttelton Rooms, Church Street, Malvern at 7.30pm on Thursday, May 4. The meeting will see Richard Newton talk about Great Malvern’s Woodford Meadow. Entry is £2.50, anyone is welcome.


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