A couple of weeks ago I attended the Rivers Trust’s Spring Conference in the Wye Valley. Around 100 people from Rivers Trusts, Agencies and local angling groups visited Hay-on-Wye to celebrate 21 years of the Wye and Usk Foundation.
Naturally, many of the talks focused on Salmon and Trout as the area boasts excellent fishing opportunities. However, this has not always been the case in the Wye and Usk Catchments. In the 1990’s Salmon populations were in serious decline because of poor water quality, habitat degradation and barriers to fish migration. Since then, the Wye and Usk Foundation have worked to reverse this decline and improve habitats at a catchment scale.
On day one of the conference we heard talks about the many different aspects of WUF’s work across the two catchments. These included habitat improvement, water quality, barriers to migration, invasive species and landowner advice. This holistic approach has allowed WUF to make catchment scale improvements with a variety of well targeted, small scale interventions which have come together to make a significant impact. Fish populations are now recovering and river habitats have been significantly improved.
During the rest of the conference we enjoyed presentations from a wide range of organisations, including the Environment Agency, Swansea University, Nestle, Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, Eden Rivers Trust, University College London, The Rivers Trust and many more. Highlights were Professor Carlo Garcia de Leaniz (Swansea University) with a passionate presentation on issues with Salmon hatcheries; and Simon Johnson’s (Eden Rivers Trust) perspective on Natural Flood Management following a very tough six months in the Eden Catchment (Cumbria).
Congratulations to the Wye and Usk Foundation and the Rivers Trust thoroughly enjoyable and interesting event.