Chapter 16. The Return of Salmon to Cleaner Rivers - England and Wales

  1. Derek Mills MSc, PhD, FIFM, FLS
  1. G.W. Mawle1 and
  2. N.J. Milner2

Published Online: 20 NOV 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470995495.ch16

Salmon at the Edge

Salmon at the Edge

How to Cite

Mawle, G.W. and Milner, N.J. (2003) The Return of Salmon to Cleaner Rivers - England and Wales, in Salmon at the Edge (ed D. Mills), Blackwell Science Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470995495.ch16

Editor Information

  1. Atlantic Salmon Trust

Author Information

  1. 1

    Environment Agency, Waterside Drive, Aztec West, Almondsbury, Bristol, BS12 4UD, UK

  2. 2

    National Salmon and Trout Fisheries Centre, Environment Agency, 29 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 OTP, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 NOV 2007
  2. Published Print: 7 JUL 2003

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632064571

Online ISBN: 9780470995495



  • salmon population;
  • pollution control;
  • water quality;
  • estuaries;
  • Wales



This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Industrial and urban development during the 19th and early 20th centuries brought about the extinction of salmon from many rivers. Over the last 40 years, increasingly strong regulation of discharges from industry and sewerage systems, combined with reductions in heavy industry and large-scale investment in water treatment, have resulted in major improvements in water quality. As a consequence, salmon are returning to an increasing number of rivers including the Thames, the Taff, the Tyne and, most recently, the Mersey. In some rivers, stocks have recovered sufficiently to provide fisheries. The Tyne now boasts the highest rod catch for salmon of any river in England or Wales at 2513 in 2001. This reflects not only the improved catch in the Tyne but also the decline of some other rivers; 42% of rivers have exhibited a statistically significant decline in rod catch over the period 1974-98, compared to 17% showing an increase. Recovering rivers now contribute about 25% of the annual rod catch of salmon, due largely to improvements in water quality aided by constraints on exploitation and, on some rivers, to stocking and to the removal of obstructions to migration. The impact on water quality of point discharges in urban areas has been, and continues to be, progressively reduced, but pollution in rural areas, particularly from diffuse sources, is an increasing concern. Despite major reductions in sulphur emissions and changes in forestry practices, acidification remains an issue in some upland areas, though mitigation by liming has proved locally successful in restoring salmon stocks where circumstances permit. The severity of some types of pollution associated with the intensification of agriculture has been reduced, notably from slurry and silage, but other aspects particularly from silt and pesticides, and compounded by flow regime changes, remain a challenge.