River Habitat Improvements Reap Rewards

John said, “It is very heartening to see your efforts rewarded in this way. I observed the redds during a short break in the freezing conditions in mid December and it was quite clear that fish had dug them recently in the fresh gravels introduced in the autumn. “It is our hope that our strategic approach to reinstating river habitats for salmonids will sustainably and incrementally increase local salmon and trout stocks and so enhance angling and the angling tourist product in Northern Ireland.” Low marine survival remains a concern and so DCAL and their partner organisations are taking this strategic approach to rebuild salmon stocks in line with NASCO* obligations. Fish habitat improvement work has been funded and carried out on the Annacloy, Bush, Ballymoney, Ballinderry, Moyola and Ballinamallard rivers and work is planned to improve fish passage at a notorious obstacle on the Lagan. The main thrust of work on the River Bush is to improve recruitment of parr by enhancing nursery habitat for these young territorial fish. Spawning redds have nonetheless been observed recently throughout the restored reach. Dr Richard Kennedy of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute commented on the value of the habitat improvement work, “The new planting has added more value to the stretch and I am looking forward to electric fishing the experimental nursery site next summer as this will be the key measure of success.”

This assessment tool has shown very encouraging results on the Breckagh Burn, near Ballymoney where habitat improvement was carried out in spring 2010 under the supervision of Teddy Roughan, local DCAL fishery officer. Commenting on the success, Teddy said, “A follow up electric fishing survey in November showed high numbers of ripe brown trout ready to spawn. Adult fish were caught in the new holding pools. This was encouraging as it showed our new habitat units were functioning.”]]>