New fish easement on Guiseley Beck to help trout and salmon swim upstream

A fish easement has been created on Guiseley Beck designed to allow trout to swim upstream to reach spawning waters high up in the headwaters of the River Aire.

The £55,000 project was led by Yorkshire Water with help from the Environment Agency, and involved a specialise contractor called Fishtek installing pre-barrages downstream of the weir to allow fish to navigate it and swim further upstream.

Many weirs date back to over 125 years ago and were created to help hold flood waters back, as well as controlling rivers levels to aid boat navigation. However, at the time they were built little attention was paid to how they would negatively impact on fish’s freedom of movement. Many are now being removed to help boost river fish populations.

Mark Tinsdeall, Environmental Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “The easement we have created on Guiseley beck will allow fish including trout and salmon to swim upstream beyond the weir to reach their spawning grounds.  Removing this obstacle is another important step in the journey to providing a healthy and resilient river which will encourage the return of the majestic salmon to the River Aire.”

Pete Turner, Fisheries Officer at the Environment Agency said: “The quality of the water in our rivers and streams has never been so good and fish are thriving because of it. Weirs such as this one stop fish from moving freely though, for example to access new habitat or spawning grounds. It’s fantastic that organisations like Yorkshire Water are actively addressing barriers to fish movement which are on their land. In the future I’m sure that this work will contribute to even better, more resilient fisheries in the area.

Yorkshire Water has pledged to build a total of 14 new fish passes across the region between now and 2020, committing £10m and working closely with partner organisations to deliver. Projects will be carried out on the River Aire to help salmon travel upstream, as well as on the rivers Wharfe, Hull and Don.