The Environment Agency is appealing again for help to monitor the River Tyne’s fish population during its annual survey.

Anglers are key to collecting information about fish stocks by sending in fish scales to the Environment Agency’s fisheries team. The scales offer clues about fish stocks, their health and their movements throughout the river system.

The scales grow along with the fish, and, like rings in a tree trunk, are very useful in showing periods of fast and slow growth. When they are checked under a microscope they can indicate the age of the fish, along with how long it has spent in sea and fresh water.

“Since 2007, the number of scale samples sent in and anglers participating has increased each year,” said Environment Agency environmental monitoring officer Morton Heddell-Cowie.

“During 2010, we received 577 scales samples from anglers fishing the River Tyne. Of those samples, 439 came from salmon and 138 from sea trout.
“This was a fantastic response from the angling community and we hope that they will continue to support the programme for the season to come.”

The Environment Agency is asking anglers to submit around five scales from each salmon and sea trout caught, of all sizes, not just large and small specimens. Details on how to take fish scale samples and how to become involved in the ongoing fish scale programme can be obtained by calling the Environment Agency’s environmental monitoring team on 0191 203 4140.

Environment Agency officers also collect samples throughout the fishing season, which runs from 1 February to 31 October, as part of this continuing programme.

The sampling scheme has been supported since 2008 by Hardy & Greys, Bagnall & Kirkwood, the Salmon and Trout Association, and the Tyne Rivers Trust. Their involvement in the programme has seen the number of samples increase greatly and the production of good quality data that can be compared to previous years. Every angler who takes part is entered into a prize draw.
The winners of the draw for 2010 were Martyn Webb of Stourbridge, who received a Hardy Cascapedia reel supplied by Hardy & Greys, and Michael Stewart of Bolton, who received a Shimano Nexave reel supplied by Bagnall & Kirkwood.