One of the challenges ERT faces is to commence larger scale conservation work on the Petteril. The river has been identified as one of five priority sub-catchments that we feel will make a difference to the Edens fish populations. The problem that the Petteril has is that it is very much the 'poor cousin' of the catchment as it does not have any statutory nature conservation designations such as SAC or SSSI. This has made it very difficult to obtain funding. However we are working on a bid linked to the Water Framework Directive that if successful will kick-start much needed conservation work. As well as traditional fencing we are also planning tree planting, introduction of large Woody Debris and restoration of spawning gravels.
I had the privilege of visiting the Petteril yesterday on an electric fishing survey. The good news is that on the three sites we sampled both trout and salmon fry/ parr were present aswell as bullhead, minnow, stone loach, eel and stickleback. One one site the numbers of salmon could be classed as excellent....but it's too early to get too excited!
One the down side was the extensive distribution of my old Nemesis.... Himalayan Balsam and the apparent high loading of fine sediment that has settled on spawning gravels. That said the Petteril has really captured my imagination and I always have a soft spot for the underdog!
Our friends at the EA are excited too, and we have already agreed to meet to discuss the possibilities for a collaborative project on the river.
I hope to be able to report in the next week or two regarding the success of our funding bid...the Petteril deserves it!
The picture at the top is of a juvenile salmon caputured during our survey. Catching this little fellow has really inspired me to get something done.