Salmon breed in Sirhowy for first time in 100 years

Salmon nests in Sirhowy River, near Blackwood. Weirs have been built to help the Salmon swim upstream in order to nest. Pictured is Hywel Abbot from Groundwork Caerphilly with the River Sirhowy in Pontllanfraith. (3707040)

Salmon nests in Sirhowy River, near Blackwood. Weirs have been built to help the Salmon swim upstream in order to nest. Pictured is Hywel Abbot from Groundwork Caerphilly with the River Sirhowy in Pontllanfraith. (3707064)

Salmon nests in Sirhowy River, near Blackwood. Weirs have been built to help salmon swim upstream in order to nest. Pictured is Hywel Abbot from Groundwork Caerphilly with the River Sirhowy flowing by. (3707080)

Salmon nests in Sirhowy River, near Blackwood. Baby Salmon being allowed to grow in tanks at Groundwork Caerphilly before being introduced into the river. (3707107)

First published in News

SALMON have laid eggs in the River Sirhowy for the first time since the mining industry began in the Valleys.

Following a conservation campaign three nests have been spotted in Blackwood after the river was made more fish-friendly.

The Atlantic salmon have not been able to swim up river from the Atlantic and Irish Sea in around 100 years, due to pollution from mining and industry and from manmade barriers in the river such weirs.

Now a partnership between Natural Resources Wales, Caerphilly Council, South East Wales Rivers Trust and Groundwork Caerphilly has worked toward bringing the native species home.

Each November salmon make an “incredible journey” up the river where they were born to mate, lay their eggs and then usually die, project officer Hywel Abott, 27, said.

Their ‘nests’ – where the female moves gravel on the river bed with her tail into long runs – can contain up to 2000 eggs, of which around 10 per cent survive to adulthood.

Although salmon normally return to the river they were born in, “some of them get lost”, Mr Abbott said, which explained how the Sirhowy is populated again.

Mr Abott has been working on the project since November 2012.

He said: “We’re really pleased.

“Natural Resources Wales discovered the nests when they were conducting their survey.

“It was exciting. Now we’ll let them develop.

“Hopefully we’ll go and have a look to see if there are any young salmon in that area.”

The nests were laid at Blackwood at the Sirhowy Enterprise Way, near the Chartist Bridge and close to The Rock pub a few miles north of the town.

Groundwork Caerphilly has linked up with local schools to teach them about conservation work.

Next Wednesday youngsters from Cwmfelinfach Primary School will release young salmon raised from breeders into the river.

Gibbs Weir and another smaller weir just upstream known as Penmaen Weir were taken down to remove barriers to the salmon’s migration from the Irish Sea and the Atlantic.

The Healthy Rivers Partnership are hoping that the journey will become an annual event.

Comments (8)

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12:29pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Raymond Luxury-Yacht says...

"The Atlantic salmon have not been able to swim up river from the Atlantic and Irish Sea in around 100 years, due to pollution from mining and industry"
Why is it that pollution from agriculture rarely gets mentioned? Farming contributes around 50-60% of nitrates, 20-30% of phosphorus and 75% of the sediment getting into our water sources.

Sorry to be pedantic but the Rock Inn is just yards outside the border of Blackwood Town - not a few miles north of the town.
"The Atlantic salmon have not been able to swim up river from the Atlantic and Irish Sea in around 100 years, due to pollution from mining and industry" Why is it that pollution from agriculture rarely gets mentioned? Farming contributes around 50-60% of nitrates, 20-30% of phosphorus and 75% of the sediment getting into our water sources. Sorry to be pedantic but the Rock Inn is just yards outside the border of Blackwood Town - not a few miles north of the town. Raymond Luxury-Yacht
  • Score: -1

2:30pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Frankfurt says...

I hope it is true that there are salmon in the Sirhowy but there's no mention in this report of anyone actually seeing one. It would mean that salmon have returned to the Ebbw as well since the Sihowy is its tributary,
I hope it is true that there are salmon in the Sirhowy but there's no mention in this report of anyone actually seeing one. It would mean that salmon have returned to the Ebbw as well since the Sihowy is its tributary, Frankfurt
  • Score: 7

4:04pm Thu 30 Jan 14

4PEE..... says...

Regarding your article 30/1/2014 Surprising return or river Salmon.

Considering Mr Abbott has been involved in the River since 2012 he as only
now realised that there are Salmon in the Sirhowy.
They were released as fry, not certain but I think it was the 80s and was first
spotted in the river in the 90s and can be seen every year under the bridge
in Ynysddu every November when they run the river to spawn.
Regarding your article 30/1/2014 Surprising return or river Salmon. Considering Mr Abbott has been involved in the River since 2012 he as only now realised that there are Salmon in the Sirhowy. They were released as fry, not certain but I think it was the 80s and was first spotted in the river in the 90s and can be seen every year under the bridge in Ynysddu every November when they run the river to spawn. 4PEE.....
  • Score: 2

7:51pm Thu 30 Jan 14

westender says...

Frankfurt wrote:
I hope it is true that there are salmon in the Sirhowy but there's no mention in this report of anyone actually seeing one. It would mean that salmon have returned to the Ebbw as well since the Sihowy is its tributary,
Salmon have been in the Ebbw river for quite some time now, I was recently shown a photograph of a large salmon left by an otter disturbed by a dog walker, the Ebbw is flourishing as a wildlife sanctuary for all manner of creatures and if we can persuade the airgun carrying cretins to stop killing things for "sport" will only get better
[quote][p][bold]Frankfurt[/bold] wrote: I hope it is true that there are salmon in the Sirhowy but there's no mention in this report of anyone actually seeing one. It would mean that salmon have returned to the Ebbw as well since the Sihowy is its tributary,[/p][/quote]Salmon have been in the Ebbw river for quite some time now, I was recently shown a photograph of a large salmon left by an otter disturbed by a dog walker, the Ebbw is flourishing as a wildlife sanctuary for all manner of creatures and if we can persuade the airgun carrying cretins to stop killing things for "sport" will only get better westender
  • Score: 6

8:42pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Limestonecowboy says...

Growing up we used to call this the black river because of the coal how times have changed!
Growing up we used to call this the black river because of the coal how times have changed! Limestonecowboy
  • Score: 1

9:49am Fri 31 Jan 14

Woodgnome says...

........and some folk want to build a barrage across the Usk for "boat trips to Caerleon" and say goodbye to stories like this. Madness.
........and some folk want to build a barrage across the Usk for "boat trips to Caerleon" and say goodbye to stories like this. Madness. Woodgnome
  • Score: -1

9:01pm Sat 1 Feb 14

Thinking heads says...

I'm of to get my license of the city council for the ebbw at deer park the owners for that length to the sea.
I'm of to get my license of the city council for the ebbw at deer park the owners for that length to the sea. Thinking heads
  • Score: -1

9:27pm Sun 2 Feb 14

4PEE..... says...

That is the trouble with (fish butchers.) They just think off killing everything.
Why can't you just give the fish a chance to get established before you decimate the stocks.
There isn't that many fish coming back as they have to run the gauntlet
of the channel fishermen.You call your self Thinking heads well try thinking be you act.
That is the trouble with (fish butchers.) They just think off killing everything. Why can't you just give the fish a chance to get established before you decimate the stocks. There isn't that many fish coming back as they have to run the gauntlet of the channel fishermen.You call your self Thinking heads well try thinking be you act. 4PEE.....
  • Score: 0

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