The study will mark the final year of a fish tagging and monitoring programme into the behaviour of fish and other animals as they use the area around the Tees Barrage for migration and feeding.
The fish tagging survey being carried out by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) on behalf of the Canal & River Trust had been delayed while works to complete the white water course – which incorporates two fish passes - were completed.
The study has been looking into how fish use the Barrage to migrate upstream and assessing potential improvements to the fish pass originally installed when the Barrage was built. New monitoring equipment will now allow an assessment of the new fish passes on the white water course to be made.
A research plan for the final year of the study has been agreed between Cefas, the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency and fish tagging began in early April. The tagging involves humanely fitting fish with acoustic transmitters and monitoring their movements using a network of receivers in the river and around the barrage. This enables fisheries experts to monitor the behaviour of the fish and observe how they make their way through the barrage area.
Scientists have learned a great deal from the first two years of the study and are optimistic that improvements to the white water course will improve fish passage through the Barrage sufficiently to gain final fish pass consent from the Environment Agency.
Jonathan Hart-Woods, environment manager, with the Canal & River Trust said; “We're pleased that work on the final year of the study can now get underway. It was a logical decision to wait until works to complete the white water course were finished as until then we really wouldn't have been able to put together an accurate picture of what's happening on the river.
“We are optimistic that the improvements to the existing fish pass, combined with the new passes on the white water course and the use of improved monitoring equipment, we will be able to gain a more accurate picture of fish movements over the Barrage.”
The study period is expected to be completed by April 2014 with a decision on final fish pass consent anticipated in Autumn 2014.