The Environment Agency has discovered record numbers of young salmon on the main river flowing through Boscastle

In 2004 the Cornish village was hit by one of the worst floods in living memory after the River Valency burst its banks. More than 70 vehicles were washed into the harbour and a number of local buildings extensively damaged. Miraculously no-one was hurt.

The flood waters also swept away salmon spawning grounds and most of the young fish in the River Valency at the time. This exceptional event, caused by a freak storm, resulted in local salmon and trout numbers dropping to a 20 year low.

The successful completion of the £5 million Boscastle flood defence scheme by the Environment Agency in 2008 has significantly reduced the risk of flooding in this popular Cornish village and helped tame the once turbulent River Valency.

A recent fish survey revealed surprisingly high numbers of young salmon. Environment Agency officers ‘electro-fished’ the area around Newmills and discovered the second highest density of salmon fry in the river since records began in 1987.

‘This is excellent news and shows the flood improvement works at Boscastle hasn’t hindered the movement of fish upstream. The results of this survey clearly demonstrates salmon and trout are spawning in the River Valency and producing good numbers of young, Salmon are highly sensitive to their surroundings and a good indicator of water quality,’ said Alan Cole for the Environment Agency.

The flood defence scheme included raising the main car park, constructing flood walls and deepening the river channel to create new pools. The pools were chiselled out of solid rock and a meandering channel created to replicate the natural form of the original channel and to ease the passage of fish up the river.

Shortly before work began the Environment Agency carried out a ‘fish rescue’ to enable contractors to move on site and minimise disruption to fish and other riverlife. A number of young salmon were re-located downstream to increase their chances of survival.

‘We are delighted Boscastle still has a thriving population of salmon after all the work that has taken place since 2004. It demonstrates how carefully planned and constructed works can benefit the environment as well as local communities,’ said Alan Cole.