Usk Catchment 2013 Fishery Survey Report

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1 Usk Catchment 2013 Fishery Survey Report Sophie Gott Report TM/SE_A&R/14/18

2 The river Usk is one of the premier salmon rivers in Wales, with its fishery contributing significantly to the local economy. The catchment is also important in terms of its general ecology; it is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and is home to several protected species of fish, plants, mammals and invertebrates. The water quality, biology (aquatic invertebrates and plants) and fish of the catchment are routinely monitored by Natural Resources Wales on a fixed programme. This report presents the findings of the 2013 spatial programme and the temporal programme up to and including 2013, and compares them to historic long-term datasets. Catchment The river Usk rises at 530m AOD on Black Mountain in the Beacons and flows in a south-easterly direction for about 125km to the Severn Estuary at Newport. The catchment is long and narrow with typically short steep tributaries, and drains an area of about 1160 km 2. The catchment is largely rural in nature, being dominated by the Beacons National Park, and sparsely populated, the exceptions being Newport, and. There are four reservoirs in the upper Usk catchment; the Usk, Grwyne Fawr, Talybont (on the Caerfanell) and the Crai, and a further reservoir (Llandegfedd) lower down in the catchment on the Sor Brook. The Usk estuary at Newport is linked to an extensive area of reclaimed coastal grasslands and network of drainage channels, the Gwent Levels. These Levels are controlled by tidal flaps, sluices and weirs but are known to hold some populations of coarse fish and eels. The Monmouthshire canal connects Newport and with a short side branch to the Ebbw valley. The canal relies on the abstraction of water from the Usk at, just upstream of the weir, and is topped up by additional abstractions from tributaries of the Usk, the largest of which is on the Crawnon. The river Usk and its major tributaries are designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and subsequently are included in the EU Habitats Directive. The designated features of the river Usk SAC are the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar); otter (Lutra lutra); bullhead (Cottus gobio); Allis and Twaite shad (Alosa alosa and Alosa fallax respectively) and sea, river and brook lamprey (Petromyzon marinus, Lampetra fluviatilis and Lampetra planeri, respectively) within the catchment. The catchment supports several fish species for which there are UK Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs); Atlantic salmon; brown/sea trout (Salmo trutta); eel (Anguilla anguilla); shad (Allis and Twaite); and lamprey (sea and river, but not brook). Obstructions There are 2 weirs on the main Usk, one at Trostrey and the second at, only the latter is consider a barrier to salmon migration and was equipped with a Larinier fish pass in There are several other fishing weirs and minor obstructions, both natural and man-made, on the main river, but none of these is considered a barrier to salmon or sea trout. The extent of shad migration is Crickhowell where the town bridge footings are the limiting factor; although Trostry gauging weir and Llanfoist Bridge also pose significant

3 barriers. Sea lamprey migrations effectively stop at where the weir is thought to be the limiting factor. A number of obstacles remain on the tributaries of the Usk, both natural e.g. the falls on the Clydach and manmade, e.g. the weirs on the Gavenny or the dams at the bottom of the 5 reservoirs. These vary as to the degree of severity from fully impassable to partial barriers at certain flows, and work is being carried out by the Environment Agency and the Wye and Usk Foundation, to make some of them more easily surmounted by migrating salmon. Little work has been carried out in assessing the impact of these smaller obstacles on the migration of brown trout; however any new fish pass should consider all migrating species and not just salmon, e.g. brown trout, eel and lamprey. Water Framework Directive The Water Framework Directive is a piece of European legislation that requires we aim to achieve good status in surface waters by The assessment of status includes both chemical and ecological quality assessments, with fisheries being one element of the ecological classification of the water body. The map below (Figure 1) shows the overall fisheries classification for each of the river water bodies in the Usk catchment in In many cases the classification for an individual water body will be based on data from a number of fisheries survey sites. At each of those sites survey data is compared against what we would expect to find in terms of both numbers and diversity of fish species under near natural conditions. Figure 1 Overall Fisheries WFD classification for Usk waterbodies in 2013

4 There are 51 river water bodies in the Usk catchment shown, 40 of which have been assessed for fish. Of these 1 was classed as High status, 17 were classed as Good status, 19 Moderate status and 3 Poor status. The main reason preventing water bodies from reaching good status for fish was due to barriers to migration. There was some sediment pressure from agriculture and rural land management in the lower catchment, plus a couple of water bodies with abstraction related pressures the Malpas Brook for public water supply and the Crawnon for the canal. The Usk Fishery The Usk is renowned for its good quality brown trout fishery, but equally, it supports a healthy and valuable salmon fishery, and a small but viable sea trout fishery. Salmon and sea trout angling occurs predominantly on the main river Usk, and occasionally on some of the larger tributaries when conditions are favourable. Brown trout fishing occurs throughout the tributaries and higher up on the main river Usk. Rod catch records have been kept on the Usk since 1952 for salmon, and 1963 for sea trout (Figures 2 and 3) and catch and release has been reported since The figures given in this report are declared catches from licence returns and are not corrected for under-reporting. The salmon rod catch on the Usk (Figure 2) has been a little lower since 2009 (notwithstanding a good catch in 2012), and provisional data from 2013 returns (537 fish) suggests that this is still the case. This follows a period of increasing numbers from the mid-1990s with catches around 600 or 700 salmon and exceeding 1100 in 2004, 2007 and 2008: The very poor rod catch of 2003 is likely to be associated with the dry hot summer and low flows; and it is thought this is probably the case for 2013 as well Released Killed Figure 2 - Declared salmon rod-catch 1952 to 2013 (from rod licence returns); catch and release data collated from data is provisional byelaws introduced affected the length of the season and the method of fishing, and the National Spring Salmon Byelaws introduced in 1999, requiring the release of all salmon caught before the 16 th June. The rod catch for sea trout in the Usk had traditionally been relatively low, usually less than 100 per year (Figure 3). In the 1990s greatly increased catches were recorded, peaking at

5 Percentage of fish released in Since this peak, catches has declined and stabilised at just over 100 in recent years. It is thought that part of this increased catch is due to proportionally more effort being directed at sea trout, possibly relating to the tightening of regulation in the salmon rod fishery Released Killed Figure 3 - Declared sea trout rod-catch 1963 to 2013 (from rod licence returns); catch and release data collated from data is provisional. The trend in salmon catch and release rates in the Usk has mirrored the national average, increasing from 9% in 1993 to 71% in 2013 (Figure 4), and is usually slightly above the national average. However, whilst the proportion of catch and release on the Usk has increased approximately 1/3 of the salmon caught are still killed, and in recent high summer flow years when fresh fish are quickly distributed around the catchment, the release rate has dipped as low as 49% (2009). In light of the poor rod catch in recent years, and the fact that the river is classed as Probably at Risk, this may be a significant number of salmon to be removed from the spawning stock. The nearby river Wye, which was consistently failing its Conservation Limits has had a mandatory Catch and Release byelaw imposed in an attempt to redress this. The Usk sea trout release rate has also increased in line with the national release rate; from 20% in 1993 to 65% in 2013 (2013), in fact, it routinely exceeds the national average Usk Salmon Usk Sea Trout National Average Salmon National Average Sea Trout National Spring Salmon Byelaws Figure 4 - Percentage of declared salmon and sea trout released for the Usk, compared to the national average, 1993 to 2013 (national average figures are not yet available for 2013).

6 Conservation Targets and Egg Deposition Salmon stock status is assessed through the use of Conservation Limits which provide an objective reference point against which to assess the status of salmon stocks in individual rivers. The numbers of salmon a river can produce (and consequently the catches that the stocks support) are a function of the quality and quantity of accessible spawning and rearing area. This is why, in general, big rivers have larger catches and have correspondingly bigger total spawning requirements (or Egg Deposition Targets) than small rivers. Thus, for any given rivers there should be an optimum level of stock which the CL seeks to protect. The Conservation Limit represents the number of eggs that must be deposited each year within a given catchment in order to conserve salmon stocks in the future. The calculations use rod catch data to determine annual compliance against the CL, accounting for the split in multi sea winter fish (MSW) and grilse (one sea winter fish). There are implications for this on the spawning stock as grilse will deposit fewer eggs than will a large MSW fish, and indeed may not spawn at all on their first return. The proportion of rod caught grilse to MSW fish in the Usk appears to fluctuate around the 65% grilse to 35% MSW mark (Figure 5), but in recent years the MSW fish component has increased, exceeding 50% since % 80% MSW Grilse 60% 40% 20% 0% Figure 5 - Percentage contribution of grilse to total declared salmon rod catch, The Conservation Limit for the Usk is set at million eggs, represented by the red line on the graph (Figure 6). The current estimated number of eggs being deposited (11 million) is just above the Conservation Limit, this is driven by the larger number of MSW fish and their proportionally larger contribution of eggs, in what was otherwise a poor rod catch. Although meeting the CL the eggs deposition estimate is lower than the recent average. The declining trend means we now class the stock as Probably at Risk of not meeting its target sustainable stock levels. The trend had been improving in the last couple of years and had previously moved from this classification to Probably not at Risk, but the poor rod catch 2013 has reversed this trend. Our statistical predictions suggest that in 5 years time, the status of the Usk salmon stock will still be Probably at Risk.

7 Log (egg deposition, millions) River Usk Conservation Limit %ile Mean Trend Line 1 Annual Egg Deposition 95% Confidence Limit 0.0 Year Figure 6 - Estimates of egg deposition, and compliance in the Usk catchment. The Conservation Limit (CL) is also shown (red line). 1 The 20 th Percentile Line is the value below which 20% of the observations may be found. Juvenile Salmonids The previous major survey on the Usk was carried out in 2007, and showed that the catchment supports juvenile salmon and brown (sea) trout almost throughout its entirety (Figures 7a, b, c and d). Notably, flows were high in the summer of 2007 and surveys were generally less efficient than usual. It is considered that this goes a long way to explaining the lower densities found throughout the catchment. The maps display the National Fish Classification (NFC) grades which have been developed to evaluate and compare the results of fish population surveys in a consistent manner. The NFC ranks survey data by comparing fish abundance at the survey sites with sites nationally where juvenile salmonids are present. Sites are classified into categories A to F, depending on densities of juvenile salmonids at the site. The following table shows the values and classification of NFC. GRADE Descriptor Interpretation A Excellent In the top 20% for a fishery of this type B Good In the top 40% for a fishery of this type C Fair In the middle 20% for a fishery of this type D Fair In the bottom 40% for a fishery of this type E Poor In the bottom 20% for a fishery of this type F Fishless No fish of this type present

8 Legend Absent Present A B C D E F Figure 7a - Salmon fry classification and distribution in 2007 Figure 7b - Salmon parr classification and distribution in 2007 Legend Absent Present A B C D E F Figure 7c - Brown trout fry classification and distribution in 2007 Figure 7d - Brown trout parr and adult classification and distribution in 2007

9 The Usk Fish Monitoring Programme The Usk catchment has a network of sites which are fished either on an annual basis (temporal), or a six year rolling basis (spatial); this programme has been in place since 2006 (since 2001 for the temporal programme), although is broadly comparable to previous survey programmes In 2013 a full spatial survey was undertaken on the Usk catchment, comprising 13 quantitative, 62 semi-quantitative and 17 riffle surveys. All of the surveys were undertaken using electric fishing apparatus. Temporal sites were all surveyed using a fully quantitative (Q) catch depletion technique between stop nets and with at least 3 runs. Spatial sites were surveyed using either a semi-quantitative (SQ) or 5 minute riffle (ME) survey technique. The SQ surveys comprise a single run of fishing, and riffle surveys comprise a timed 5 minute sweep of suitable habitat, typically a riffle in sections of river too wide for standard techniques. The following data were collected at each survey, as a minimum requirement. Species of fish captured Fork length of salmon, trout, grayling and coarse fish captured (to nearest mm) and total length for all eel (to nearest cm) Scale samples from salmon, trout, grayling and coarse fish >0+ captured. Estimated total number for each minor species (e.g. bullhead, lamprey, stone loach and stickleback) captured. Site- and survey-specific variables, including site length, width, 10 digit NGR, water conductivity and temperature. Furthermore, Habscore assessments were undertaken at all Q and SQ surveys. Salmon Densities calculated from the quantitative and semi-quantitative surveys were used to assign a classification for salmon fry and parr and for trout fry and >0+ (parr and adults combined) at each site, from A Excellent through to F Fishless (Figures 9a to 9d). Presence absence information is provided for the main River Usk from the minimum estimate riffle surveys. Overall juvenile salmon numbers across the catchment appear to be consistent with recent years. Of the sites where salmon were recorded, the classifications showed a normal distribution of predominantly Good (B) or Fair (C and D) with a few Excellent (A) and Poor (E) (Figures 9a and 9b). Habscore results suggest that very few sites have densities of salmon fry or parr which are statistically significantly higher than would be expected for the habitat given (Table 1 and Figures 10a and 10b). The majority show no difference statistically to reference conditions, but about 1/3 of sites have densities of salmon fry or parr which are statistically significantly lower than would be expected (slightly more so in the case of fry than parr). Salmon fry densities were increased at almost all of the temporal sites when compared to 2011 (last year surveyed); and were statistically significantly higher than expected at three sites on the Crai (U003), Cilieni (U005a) and the Tarell (U008). Of the temporal sites, the Senni (U004), Bran (U006), Grwyne Fawr (U012) and Grwyne Fechan (U013), all had densities below their normal ranges; this was only statistically significant at the Bran site. Salmon parr densities were more variable and in contrast to the fry densities, were much increased on the Senni (U004) and Bran (U006), and also the Ysgir (U007). The other sites mostly

10 displayed similar densities to previous years, and where they were lower, they were mostly within the normal range for those sites. Notable rivers in this group are the Honddu, Rhiangoll and Grwyne, which all have fewer parr than usual, and many of the sites show this to be statistically significant. Overall, fewer sites in the Usk catchment recorded salmon as totally absent, both fry and parr stages, than in However, there was still a large proportion of the category Fishless (22/74 sites), this partly reflects the inclusion of more varied sites for WFD, often sited where salmon are unable to access (seven sites indicated as black on the Habscore maps Figures 10a to 10e). Notwithstanding the presence of migratory barriers, two total salmon absences are notable. Firstly is the Nant Clydach in the upper Usk, where salmon have occasionally been found but always in low numbers, both sites on this stream have statistically significantly poorer salmon fry and parr densities than expected. Secondly the general lack of juvenile salmon in tributaries downstream of, the exceptions including the Olway brook, where salmon fry were caught in low numbers at both sites; and the Berthin Brook, where salmon fry and parr were caught in low numbers at the downstream site, but the overall picture is poor for this reach. Many of these sites are highlighted by Habscore has having statistically significantly poorer densities of salmon fry and parr than would be expected. Brown trout Brown trout were found in every quantitative and semi-quantitative survey on the Usk catchment. As with the salmon classifications, a normal distribution of Excellent through to Poor was recorded (Figures 9c and 9d). Also comparable to the salmon results, about 1/3 of the sites had statistically significantly poorer fry densities than would be expected (Table 1 and Figures 10c, d and e). This trend was not replicated in the older trout age groups where very few sites had significantly fewer parr or adults than expected; and in fact proportionally more sites had significantly more adult trout than expected. Brown trout fry densities were decreased compared to 2011, at the Senni (U004), Bran (U006), Ysgir (U007), Menasgin (U010), Rhiangoll (U011), Grwyne Fechan (U013) and Tarell (U022); this is statistically significant at the Senni, Ysgir and Tarell sites, the other sites are within their normal range. Overall, average brown trout fry density across the Usk catchment appeared to increase in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and although the average density is lower in 2013, it is comparable to the preceding years. Brown trout parr and adult densities showed little change on 2011 with the exception of the Cilieni (U005). It is likely that this is due to site alterations where habitat work has meant that a large pool has been moved out of the survey site. Average density of parr and adults across the Usk catchment has remained relatively stable over recent years. Salmon 0+ Salmon >0+ Trout 0+ Trout <20cm Trout >20cm Statistically Significantly More than Expected No Statistical Significance Statistically Significantly Fewer than Expected Not Accessible Total % Significantly Fewer % Significantly More Table 1 Habitat Utilisation Index (HUI) summary for the Usk Catchment

11 Sennybridge Sennybridge Salmon Fry 2013 Classification A - Excellent B - Good C - Fair D - Fair E - Poor F - Fishless Salmon Fry 2013 Presence Absence Absent Present Usk Town Salmon Parr 2013 Classification A - Excellent B - Good C - Fair D - Fair E - Poor F - Fishless Salmon Parr 2013 Presence Absence Absent Present Usk Town Figure 9a - Salmon fry (0+) classification for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment Presence Absence is derived from 5 minute riffle surveys. Figure 9b - Salmon parr (>0+) classification for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment Presence Absence is derived from 5 minute riffle surveys.

12 Sennybridge Sennybridge Brown Trout Fry 2013 Classification A - Excellent B - Good C - Fair D - Fair E - Poor F - Fishless Brown Trout Fry Presence Absence Absent Present Usk Town Brown Trout Parr and Adult 2013 Classification A - Excellent B - Good C - Fair D - Fair E - Poor F - Fishless Brown Trout Parr and Adult 2013 Presence Absence Absent Present Usk Town Figure 9c - Brown trout fry (0+) classification for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment Presence Absence is derived from 5 minute riffle surveys. Figure 9d - Brown trout parr and adult (>0+) classification for all semiquantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment Presence Absence is derived from 5 minute riffle surveys.

13 Sennybridge Sennybridge Legend Salmon Fry HabScore 2013 Significantly Negative No Significance Significantly Positive Not Accessible Legend Salmon Parr HabScore 2013 Significantly Negative No Significance Significantly Positive Not Accessible Usk Usk Figure 10a Salmon fry Habscore results for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment Figure 10b Salmon parr Habscore results for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment 2013.

14 Sennybridge Sennybridge Legend Legend Trout Parr HabScore 2013 Trout Fry HabScore 2013 Significantly Negative Significantly Negative No Significance No Significance Significantly Positive Significantly Positive Usk Usk Figure 10c Brown trout fry Habscore results for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment Figure 10d Brown trout parr Habscore results for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment 2013.

15 Sennybridge Legend Trout Adult HabScore 2013 Significantly Negative No Significance Significantly Positive Usk Figure 10e Brown trout adult Habscore results for all semi-quantitative and quantitative surveys in the Usk catchment 2013.

16 Catchment Population Trends Trends in the population data for salmon and brown trout were assessed using a Bayesian statistical model written in WinBUGS software. The data were analysed using both linear and nonlinear models. The linear model fits a straight line to the data in order to determine whether a trend (upwards or downwards) is present in fish numbers over the timeframe. The statistical significance of the trend is denoted by the P value, P>0.975 indicates a statistically significant upward trend and P<0.025 indicates a statistically significant downwards trend. This can also be considered as percentage chance, e.g. a 97.5% chance of an upward trend, or a 97.5% chance of a downwards trend. The non-linear model fits a curved line to the data, which may be more informative in long data sets of naturally fluctuating fish populations. It can highlight particular times within the data series where upwards or downwards trends have been more evident; however no statistical significance can be calculated for these trends. It is not a particularly useful tool for analysing short-term datasets as the effect of abnormal years (e.g. the high flows and inefficient survey conditions of 2007 and 2008) can heavily skew the results; and as such is only used for the longterm data sets. The data were first analysed using all of the historic quantitative salmonid surveys from the Usk catchment, excluding surveys associated with stocking, habitat improvement or impact assessments; this totalled 320 surveys. Both salmon and brown trout were analysed using both a linear and non-linear model on the 28 year data set ( ), and just the linear model on the 12 year data set ( ), the latter representing the period for which the surveys were standardised and undertaken every year. The 12 year data set used data only from surveys conducted annually as part of the revised Core Fish Monitoring Programme, and totalled 146 surveys. It is important to remember that these trends will fluctuate year on year, and should be considered as part of a bigger analysis, including for example rod catch and habitat availability. Salmon In broad terms, the juvenile salmon populations in the Usk have increased since surveying began in 1986 (Figures 11a and b) with a statistically significant overall juvenile upward trend (P = ); this upward trend is primarily fuelled by a statistically significant increase in salmon fry numbers (P = 1.0); the parr densities have shown no evidence of an upward trend, rather a slight decline (P = ). It has be proposed that the increasing trend in salmon fry, which is not reflected in parr trends, could reflect a habitat bottleneck or a possible decrease in smolt age, such as that previously observed on the Dee and Wye (Davidson et al, 2006). Habscore results indicate that salmon parr numbers at the majority of the sites in the Usk catchment are well within normal parameters, suggesting that there is not a bottleneck between the fry and parr stages of life. Without significant investment in a trapping or scale collection programme, there is no way to determine if the smolt age has declined on the Usk. In the short term dataset, the trend is not as promising, indicating a strong downwards trend (P = ) in juvenile salmon densities since 2002 (Figure 11c). Again, this is more pronounced in the parr populations (P = ) than in the fry (P = ). This is also evident in the non-linear analysis, which shows a dipping of the trend in recent years (Figure 11b).

17 Log Density Log Density % confidence interval around trend median Temporal variation around trend, with 95% CI Figure 11a - Linear analysis of juvenile salmon populations in the Usk catchment, 1986 to 2013 (P = ) Median trend Temporal variation around trend, with 95% CI 95% confidence interval around trend Figure 11b - Non-linear analysis of juvenile salmon populations in the Usk catchment, 1986 to 2013

18 Log Density 1 95% confidence interval around trend median Temporal variation around trend, with 95% CI Figure 11c - Linear analysis of juvenile salmon populations in the Usk catchment, 2002 to 2013 (P = ) Brown Trout The story for brown trout in the Usk appears to contrast with salmon, in that there is a statistically significant downwards trend in overall populations (Figure 12a). However, this is entirely fuelled by a statistically significant (P = 0) downwards trend in parr and adult, and in fact the trend for fry is strongly upwards, albeit not quite statistically significant (P = ). The downwards trend in parr and adults does not correlate with Habscore results, which suggest that the majority of sites have trout parr and adult numbers well within normal ranges. The non-linear analysis suggests a bottoming out of this downwards trend in the early part of this century, and possibly a potential upturn (Figure 12b). This is backed up by the short-term dataset (Figure 12c), which shows an overall slight upwards trend (P = ), again fuelled primarily by fry (P = ) rather than parr and adults (P = ); although it is noteworthy that the >0+ downwards trend appears to have stopped and the trend is more stable, i.e. not upwards or downwards. NB these data are from sites traditionally picked for juvenile salmon and as such, there is an inherent bias against larger brown trout habitat, this is why the Habscore data is valuable.

19 Log Density Log Density 0 95% confidence interval around trend Temporal variation around trend, with 95% CI median Figure 12a - Linear analysis of brown trout populations in the Usk catchment, 1986 to 2013 (P = 0) 0 Median trend Temporal variation around trend, with 95% CI 95% confidence interval around trend Figure 12b Non-linear analysis of brown trout population in the Usk catchment, 1986 to 2013

20 Log Density 0 95% confidence interval around trend median Temporal variation around trend, with 95% CI Figure 12c - Linear analysis of brown trout populations in the Usk catchment, 2002 to 2013 (P = ) Main river salmon spawning Salmon spawning on the main river Usk is difficult to quantify, the river is too large for standard semi or quantitative methods. As such, 5 minute riffle surveys (Minimum Estimate ME) are carried out at regular intervals along the river as part of the spatial monitoring programme. In 2013, salmon fry were present in varying numbers at all but one (U062 at Crickhowell) of the sites along the main Usk (Figure 13), with proportionally more occurring upstream of Crickhowell and Talybont. Sennybridge Legend Salmon Fry Numbers Usk Figure 13 Numbers of salmon fry caught in 5 minute riffle surveys on the main river Usk in 2013

21 0+ Salmon 1989 to Salmon 2002 to 2013 A basic analysis has been carried out of the salmon fry data from all of the ME sites in the current spatial programme over two timeframes: since records began in 1989 (Figure 14a), and from 2002 when the programme was standardised (Figure 14b). Note the years are not consecutive, data is only displayed from years where at least 1 survey was carried out. The average number of fry caught in these surveys appears to have peaked in about the mid- 1990s, although the confidence limits are relatively wide, and to have dipped in recent years. It is possible that as the tributaries become more accessible and if adult spawners are less numerous (as seen from the recent rod catches), that spawning in tributaries may take preference over main river. Interval Plot of 0+ Salmon 1989 to % CI for the Mean Interval Plot of 0+ Salmon 2002 to % CI for the Mean Year Fished Year 2013 Figure 14a Mean number of salmon fry caught in 5 min riffle surveys on the main river Usk, 1989 to 2013 Figure 14b Mean number of salmon fry caught in 5 minute riffle surveys on the main river Usk, spatial programme in 2002, 2007 and 2013 Further Work Identified Investigations into salmon and trout populations in a number of the tributaries of the Usk, e.g.: The Dwr Llydan, to ascertain whether a blockage is preventing salmon migration into the river The Nant Clydach in the upper Usk, to determine why salmon populations are so poor The Menasgin, to determine why salmon still appear unable to access it or successfully spawn either upstream or downstream of the weir. The Gavenny, to determine why trout populations are so poor The Crawnon, to determine why salmon are no longer spawning above the lowest waterfall The upper Grwyne Fawr, for potential migratory access problems. The Olway, Berthin and Sor Brooks, for access and water quality problems; other tributaries in the lower reaches of the Usk which are not within the monitoring programme, could be including in this investigation.

22 Non target species Although the Core Fisheries Monitoring Programme is set up to monitor fish with an economic importance to the fishery, i.e. salmonids and coarse fish, the surveys also record the presence of other fish species of conservation interest. These other fish species may be of local conservation value, such as shad, or European conservation value, such as lamprey, bullhead and eels. Lamprey All 3 species of lamprey (brook, river and sea) are protected in the Usk catchment under the Habitats Directive, and are Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. There is currently no specific monitoring programme for lamprey, however, observations of juvenile lamprey during routine fisheries monitoring surveys have enabled us to get a good idea of distribution (Figures 15a and 15b). Sea lamprey have only been recorded as far upstream as, despite suitable habitat being present, and it is thought that Weir presents a barrier to their migration. Sea lamprey ammocoetes are significantly rarer to catch than are river / brook ammocoetes, probably from a preference for deeper silt beds in deeper water, and as such, records are fewer in number. Sennybridge Sennybridge Usk Town Usk Town Figure 15a - Lamprey ammocoete observations in the Usk 2008 to 2013, Green Present, Red - Absent. Data from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) electric fishing sites. Figure 15b - Sea lamprey ammocoete observations in the Usk 2008 to 2013, Green Present, Red - Absent. Data from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) electric fishing sites.

23 Bullhead Bullhead are protected in the Usk catchment under the Habitats Directive. There is currently no statutory requirement for NRW to survey for bullhead, however, as part of any fisheries survey undertaken, bullhead would be recorded as present or absent as a minimum, more usually as an estimated number. Bullhead are present at the majority of sites surveyed in the Usk catchment (Figure 16), with just a couple of notable absences, frequently above barriers. Sennybridge Usk Town Figure 16 - Bullhead distribution in the Usk 2008 to 2013, Green Present, Red - Absent. Data from NRW electric fishing surveys.

24 Eel Eels are protected in the Usk catchment under the Habitats Directive and are Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. There is a statutory requirement for Natural Resources Wales to monitor eel populations; this is done on a wider scale by the capturing, counting and measuring (length and weight) all eel caught in routine fisheries surveys. In addition, the Usk is an Eel Index River, one of two in the Severn RBD, on which a biennial monitoring programme comprising ten fully quantitative electric fishing surveys is carried out. Eels are found in the majority of sites surveyed downstream of, and at several sites upstream of (Figure 17). The fewer reports of eels further up the catchment, suggest that Weir may present a partial barrier to migrating eel, although they are not generally inclined to migrate more than about 80km upstream of the tidal limit (DEFRA, 2010). Sennybridge Usk Town Figure 17 - Eel distribution in the Usk 2008 to 2013, Green Present, Red - Absent. Data from NRW electric fishing surveys. References Davidson, I.C., Hazlewood, M.S., and Cove, R.J. (2006). Predicted growth of juvenile trout and salmon in four rivers in England and Wales based on past and possible future temperature regimes linked to climate change. Proceedings of First International Sea Trout Symposium, Cardiff, July Fishing News Books, Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford: DEFRA, 2010 Severn River Basin District Eel Management Plan

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