A concept for improving Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolt migration past hydro power intakes


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In this study, cost effective (in terms of reducing loss of power production) measures for increasing bypass migration of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar were developed and tested by establishing statistical models for timing of smolt migration and favourable diversion of water to the bypass. Initial tracking of radio-tagged smolts showed very low bypass migration under normal hydropower operations. Bypass migration increased when bypass discharge was experimentally increased and a model was developed that described relationships between total river discharge, bypass diversion and smolt migration route. Further improvements were obtained by installing two strobe lights at the power-production tunnel entrance that increased bypass migration during the night, but not during daytime. According to the behaviour of radio-tagged fish, the implemented measures contributed to increasing the annual percentage of bypass migration from 11 to 64%, and according to model predictions to 60–74% when the hydropower facilities were operated according to the developed models. To ensure correct timing of discharge diversion a smolt migration model was developed based on environmental variables that could successfully predict the general pattern of migration timing. The concept presented for improving smolt migration past hydropower intakes should be applicable in many systems where migration past hydropower installations cannot easily be solved by screening systems.