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Environment Agency Tracks Fish Migration

Trout Sustainability Politics +4 more

UK - A sea trout originally tagged in the River Tyne has been caught off the Dutch coast, a rare occurrence that has given Environment Agency fisheries experts a fascinating insight into the migratory patterns of these fish.

Lucy Towers thumbnail

The fish was tagged by Environment Agency staff at Falstone on the North Tyne on 13 November 2012, and recaptured on 20 February 2013 more than 300 miles away near Heemskerk in the Netherlands.

Environment Agency fisheries expert Morton Heddell-Cowie takes up the story: “This is one of 1,885 sea trout tagged since 2005 during fish collections for our Kielder Hatchery, and then released back to the North Tyne to continue their spawning migrations.

“The capture is remarkable as it is one of only a handful of recaptures of Tyne tagged fish since our tagging work began, and only the second to be reported from off the Dutch coast.

“Tagging enables us to identify the routes taken by migratory fish and provides valuable information on their rates of growth and survival. Recaptures of tagged fish are generally quite rare because of the small numbers involved and the low likelihood of them being encountered.

“For example, out of 1,885 sea trout tagged on the Tyne, just over a dozen recaptures have been reported. These have ranged from as far afield as Lincolnshire and the Dutch coasts, providing valuable insights into the pattern of migration in the North Sea as well as to the fate of the fish.”

The tagging on the Tyne forms part of a programme of Environment Agency ‘index river’ monitoring of salmon and sea trout populations. The information gathered from this activity, which also includes recording the detail of angler catches through logbooks and fish scale sampling programmes, is used to help the wider management of these valuable fish.

Anyone encountering a tagged fish should call the Environmental Monitoring Team on 0191 203 4140 with the details of the number on the tag, as well as where and when it was found. The tags are fitted to the shoulder of the fish just below the dorsal fin and are blue for sea trout, or green for salmon.