Poole Harbour oil spill could have serious consequences for threatened migratory fish, say GWCT experts - Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

(image: Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust)
(image: Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust)

UK-wide conservation organisation the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) has today highlighted its serious concerns over the impact of the 200-barrel fluid leak into Poole Harbour on protected migratory fish. The GWCT operates the Salmon & Trout Research Centre on the River Frome at East Stoke, Dorset, which has been monitoring the salmon population in depth for 50 years.

A major incident was declared on Sunday 26 March 2023, when a leak occurred at a pipeline operated by gas company Perenco.

The leak coincides with the start of the sea-bound migration of vulnerable young Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and sea trout (Salmo trutta), known as smolts, from the Rivers Frome and Piddle, which flow directly into Poole Harbour. The young salmon and trout hatch from eggs laid by adults in the river, where they spend 1-3 years before migrating to sea from March to mid-May. Here they will feed and grow for a further 1-3 years before returning to the river of their birth to reproduce.

Every spring, GWCT scientists trap smolts to quantify how many are leaving the river and to scan them for a PIT-tag (a microchip, which enables them to identify individuals) and record biometric information, before releasing them.

“This is the worst possible time for migratory salmonids. We are currently catching them in numbers through our smolt trap, so we know that they are passing through Poole Harbour at the moment,” said GWCT Head of Fisheries Research, Dr Rasmus Lauridsen.

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Posted On: 29/03/2023

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