New Bypass Channel to Boost Thames Fish Populations
Fish in the River Thames around Oxford will now be able to swim more freely thanks to Environment Agency work at Hinksey Weir.
Source: Environment Agency
A new nature-like bypass channel around the weir will now allow fish to migrate up and downstream freely helping to boost fish populations in the River Thames.
Hinksey Weir was identified as one of the top 20 barriers for migrating fish in the River Thames. The new bypass will help a large array of fish species to find new feeding and breeding areas which will help to boost fish populations along the river.
The Environment Agency is working with other partners to help the Thames reach Good Ecological Status as part of the EU’s Water Framework Directive. The large number of locks and weirs to aid navigation along the Thames create physical barriers to the free migration of fish species and the impounding effect of the weirs reduces the availability of fast-flowing river habitat.
The new bypass channel at Hinksey has been lined with gravel to create shallow fast-flowing ‘riffle’ features. Shallow flowing areas such as this provide vital habitat for gravel-spawning fish species such as chub, dace and barbel.
This week, Environment Agency staff are also planting the new channel with a variety of aquatic plants which will provide refuge areas for juvenile fish and benefit a number of other species including aquatic invertebrates.
Stuart Manwaring, Fisheries Officer for the Environment Agency, said:
“The quality of our rivers is improving but more needs to be done. Historic dredging practices mean that this gravel habitat is in short supply in the River Thames. Our enhancement work will help bring improvements in not only the Hinksey Weir area but also waterbodies further upstream and provide access to vital feeding and spawning grounds on Thames tributaries”
The new natural by pass channel was built on land belonging to University College Oxford. The Estates Bursar, Mr Frank Marshall commented:
"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."