Emma Calverley, Interim Director of Knowledge Exchange at the University of Hull, said: “This project is a fantastic example of knowledge exchange between our brilliant researchers at the University of Hull, the Environment Agency and the River Aire Trust. Our University strategy focuses on two of the most important challenges of our generation: environmental sustainability and social justice. The outcomes that this project has demonstrated on the environmental sustainability and ecology of our region are wonderful to see. Our work centres around people, place and partnership and this project is an excellent exemplar of research and knowledge exchange with all three at its heart.”
Thomas Somerville, DNAire Project Manager said: “It is fantastic to know that these fish passes in the upper River Aire are working as designed, and important fish species are rediscovering their key habitat.
“As well as reopening rivers to fish migration and protecting ecologically important and endangered species like salmon and eel, fish passes are an amazing opportunity to reconnect river-resident species and the local community.
“Over the coming years, we look forward to seeing a growing proportion of trout, chub, barbel and salmon run spawning journeys higher up the river and a recovery in their populations.”
Neil Trudgill, Environment Agency Fisheries Technical Specialist, said: “DNAire is a fantastic project and a great example of partnership in action between the Environment Agency and Aire Rivers Trust.
“The Aire has a fascinating history, and this important work has focussed on ensuring the sustainability of the river’s fragile coarse and trout populations as well as re-establishing populations of the iconic Atlantic salmon and eel.
“By opening up these barriers along the river, we can preserve our beloved fish species for future generations while reconnecting the community with their blue and green spaces.”
The Aire, like many other urban rivers, has suffered from over 200 years of industry. By 1825, 19 of the 32 fish species that once inhabited the river had disappeared along with the wildlife that relied on them.
The DNAire project revitalised the river to its pre-industrial glory, creating a haven for both wildlife and angling, boosting tourism and putting back what was once lost for the people and communities of West Yorkshire.