Westcountry Rivers Trust undertake Fry Index Fish Surveys on a catchment-wide basis in order to assess the ‘first year’ (0+ cohort) of salmonids within the river system/s.
By looking at salmon and trout we are surveying the fish most sensitive to environmental change. By looking at the young fish of the year we are able to decipher how successful spawning or nursery survival has been over the last season. This gives us an insight into how many fish successfully returned and spawned the previous year; how the habitat quality has been able to support or nurture the fry fish, and an idea of how escapement numbers and potential returning fish could look in the future 2-5 years. All these cumulative factors are essential to adaptive management of the fishery in the short and longer terms.
Our results can be transposed into a Conservation Strategy for the catchment, highlighting the important areas for different species or life stages. This allows us a place to start in prioritising work within the catchment and co-ordinating with catchment partners to make sure the best efforts are implemented in the most efficient and effective ways.
See what this looks like in North Devon by accessing the Taw and Torridge surveys.