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Spawning fishes’ breeding should now go swimmingly
WHEN fish in the Thames are looking to breed they sometimes get frustrated when their path to the mating pool is blocked by barriers.
Now a new bypass channel has been created to help them get round Hinksey Weir in Oxford.
The weir has now been bypassed by the £90,000 channel – created to help solve the problem and boost fish populations.
Hinksey Weir was identified by the Environment Agency as one of 20 barriers having the worst affect on migrating fish in the Thames.
The large number of locks and weirs along the river create physical barriers to the migration of many different fish species and the new channel will help a large variety of fish find new breeding areas.
The channel at Hinksey has been lined with gravel to create shallow fast-flowing areas providing a suitable habitat for chub, dace and barbel.
Chairman of the Oxford and District Anglers’ Association Terry Lester said: “I think that anything to help the environment is a good thing.
“When the river is restocked the fish always go downstream and try to come back upstream to spawn.
“But they can’t get back upstream again when there’s a barrier.”
Fisheries officer for the Environment Agency Stuart Manwaring said: “The quality of our rivers is improving, but more needs to be done.
“The gravel habitat is in short supply in the River Thames.
“Our work will help bring improvements at Hinksey Weir and further upstream and provide access to vital feeding and spawning grounds on Thames tributaries.”
The bypass channel was built on land belonging to University College, Oxford.
Vaughan Lewis, of the Windrush Aquatic Environment Consultancy, added: “There have been a number of bypasses introduced on the Thames in the last 10 years.
“There are several on the River Windrush and two have just been installed at the River Cherwell and Radcot Weir.
“There are also plans to introduce one on King’s Weir.
University College estates Bursar Frank Marshall said: “The new channel promises to make a lasting and worthwhile contribution to the wildlife of the river and the college is delighted to have been able to facilitate its construction on college land.”
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