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Keywords:

  • Salmonids;
  • Coarse fisheries;
  • Flow regulation;
  • Channel maintenance;
  • Management alternatives

Abstract

This paper examines the historical and recent influences of river regulation on fish populations and fisheries in Britain. The construction of a series of canals and interconnecting waters during the 18th and 19th centuries facilitated the spread of some species between catchments. These slow-flowing habitats allowed many lowland species to thrive and this is reflected today in the fish community structure in some rivers.

The problems of barriers to the movement of migratory species imposed by dams and weirs and the efficacy of compensation measures are discussed. The latter embrace fish passes, adult fish and smolt transport, and stocking. Potential problems for the future include the disruption of the homing of salmon to their natal rivers caused by transfers of water between catchments.

River basin management in Britain attempts to reconcile the water resource requirements of fisheries with those of other water users. This can be seen in the practice of Regional Water Authorities to include ameliorative measures in many of their land drainage and flood prevention designs. However, more research is required on the long-term problems and benefits of these and other river regulation schemes on resident fish populations.