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The Wye and Usk Foundation

Declining fish stocks were the catalyst for the formation of the Wye Foundation. Building on the efforts of volunteers, the Foundation began in 1995 with the generous backing and support from fishermen, owners and others interested in the well being of the river. Initially a full time fisheries graduate, Richard White was engaged and work began with a full survey of the tributary system.

Results of the survey showed that there were considerable problems. Blockages, pollutions, damage from excessive grazing, over shading. Timber blockages, some as high as twelve feet were removed - over 500 in total to assist the passage of both brown trout and salmon to their native spawning streams. Specific access projects such as fish passes on the Clettwr, Duhonw and Clywedog now allow salmon and trout freer access to better quality habitats as well as lobbying the Environment Agency to rectify earlier unauthorised weir construction. Several cases of pollution including sheep dip have also been resolved as a result of our work.

The next phase of the Foundation's work - and perhaps the most interesting - involves restoring the habitat of the tributary system to its former state when the river corridor supported a much richer and more diverse range of fish, birds, animals and plants - the most important being the Atlantic salmon - since so much of the local economy depends on this one species. In partnership with The Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales, Game Conservancy Trust and Brecknock, Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trusts, the Foundation was successful in obtaining European and Welsh Office funding. For the past three years we have been using this to restore the habitat of a number of key tributaries that will kick-start the brown trout fishing as well as improve the nursery habitat of salmon and a whole range of other important species. On the 1st May 1998 the Wye Habitat Improvement Project (WHIP) was launched to carry out this work.

We also turned our attention to the need to conserve adult salmon. Initial lobbying of both Environment Agency and fishermen to return fish culminated in a 'Fish for a Fish’. Backed by Sportsfish of Winforton and the Agency, in 1998 we offered a side of smoked salmon to anyone who returned a fish. That year we increased the percentage of returned fish from 7% to 24%.

Realising that would still not be sufficient, we embarked on a plan to reduce the effects of commercial fisheries in the estuary. This allowed us to become involved with the Owners and Fishermen of the Usk. We found a unity of interest and shared a number of common problems, so in 2002 we became the Wye and Usk Foundation. Full details of our projects are on our web site.

The Wye and Usk Foundation
The Coach House    The Old Rectory    Llanstephan    Brecon    Powys    LD3 0YR
T: 01982 560357 / 07818 072270    E: office@wyeuskfoundation.org    W: www.wyeuskfoundation.org

 
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