Freshwater migratory fish are among the most threatened animals on the planet. Globally they have declined by 76% between 1970 and 2016 a higher rate of decline than marine or terrestrial migratory species. Our salmon and sea trout are no different, with populations on most rivers in England and Wales classified as at risk by the UK governments. The pressures on the populations include barriers to migration, poor water quality, rising temperatures, habitat degradation and loss, over-abstraction and pressures at sea.
Beavers build dams using riparian trees and branches, and the dams can be multiple along lengths of rivers and in some cases over six feet high. These threaten to restrict the vital movement of adult salmon, sea trout and brown trout to and from their spawning grounds in small streams and tributaries, and their juveniles as they migrate downstream to sea.
Without a funded science-based management strategy, with a clear focus on mitigating impacts for salmon and trout, there is a real risk that beaver dams will cause harm to these vulnerable protected populations. Research on the licensed released beaver population in the River Otter, which is being used to inform the management strategy being developed by Defra, has focused on demonstrating the benefits of beavers. However, it did little to address the obvious threat of beaver dams to important migratory fish.
Therefore, fisheries conservations organisations – Atlantic Salmon Trust, Salmon & Trout Conservation, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, River Otter Fisheries Association, South West Rivers Association and the Angling Trust – have raised concerns to the UK and Welsh governments.
Read the full report (PDF)
Posted on: 05 March 2021