Lancaster anglers urge action amid River Lune salmon ‘extinction’ fears

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Anglers have renewed their calls for urgent action amid fears that the River Lune’s Atlantic salmon are on the brink of extinction.

The Lune was once one of the most populated salmon rivers in the North West of England. But anglers say a combination of hazards including avian predation, extremes in sea temperature and sea lice from commercial salmon farm cages are contributing to a dramatic drop in stocks.

“Whilst the local organisations are passionate about saving the salmon in our river and give their time and money to do what they can, there needs to be observable actions to stop the salmon from falling off a cliff edge into extinction,” said Brian James, chairman of Lancaster and the District Angling Association.

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“The fish counter at Forge Weir indicated a significant decline from around 8,000 salmon swimming upstream in the early 2000s to 3,500 in 2015. Since that time the counter has been out of action, so the current annual number is uncertain, but information has been published that only 1,908 salmon were counted in 2018.”

Brian James with a wild salmon prior to its release back in the water.Brian James with a wild salmon prior to its release back in the water.
Brian James with a wild salmon prior to its release back in the water.
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He added: “Experience on the River Wye in Wales has proved that improvements in the habitat alone are not sufficient to repopulate a failing river.”

Mr James believes one way to help the river’s salmon population to recover is to expand its hatchery (there are only a small number of hatcheries in England and Wales).

“The success rate of natural spawning is very low (approx. 0.5%), however this can be increased by incubating the eggs and planting them out in boxes in the tributaries of the river,” he explained.

“We would like to see the hatchery operation expanded in the very near future as we feel it plays a very important part in helping to secure the Lune salmon for future generations."