The Environment Agency has recently completed work to improve the habitat on the River Welland, near Peterborough, as part of the River Welland Sea Trout Project.

‘Fins’ are looking up for a fish which has seen its numbers nosedive over the past 30 years.

Funded by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the project aims to help protect the sea trout – a fish which has seen its numbers decline throughout Europe.

Chris Randall, of the Environment Agency’s Fisheries, Recreation and Biodiversity Team, said: ‘The River Welland used to contain a thriving population of sea trout but the fish seem to have all but disappeared over the last 30 years. Today, it is unknown just how few survive along this watercourse.

‘The habitat enhancement works on the river will provide spawning areas, shelter for the fish during various stages of their lives, and help to increase insect life to provide a food source.’

Works on the River Welland have included creating riffles - shallow stretches of water with a faster current than the rest of the river and small rippled waves – in a side channel known as the Maxey Cut. Riffles have been installed at two locations in the cut, close to the villages of Maxey and Etton.

The riffles were created using 200 tonnes of locally-sourced washed stone measuring 45 to 75mm topped with 50 tonnes of 25mm stone to encourage the fish to spawn. During the course of works, the water flow in the channel created shallow areas. These will help to encourage insect life and create areas where the water should pool to aid the fish during periods of low flow. The work cost around £25,000.

In addition to the works on the Maxey Cut, the Fisheries, Recreation and Biodiversity Team is also currently planning a joint project with the Welland Rivers Trust to create a further fish refuge on the River Welland. It is hoped the refuge will be completed either this year or next.