Double success as University fish tagging project receives a total of £500,000 for support its work

A Swansea University project to improve understanding of fish behaviour in Welsh rivers and seas has received a £500,000 funding boost.

The fisheries research has picked up two separate £250,000 awards after making successful bids to prestigious environmental funding programmes, overseen by Welsh Government.

It was named as one of the projects chosen to benefit from the latest round of the Nature Networks Fund. Delivered in partnership with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Natural Resources Wales, the Fund helps Welsh Government work towards the Global Biodiversity Framework 30 by 30 goal, which aims to protect and effectively manage 30 per cent of the planet’s marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments by 2030.

The Swansea team, based in the Faculty of Science Engineering, is now using the funding to help carry out the acoustic tagging of sea trout and twaite shad on the River Tywi, and salmon and twaite shad on the River Wye. It will also support the maintenance of a large array of acoustic receivers in the Bristol Channel to track fish movements throughout the channel.

This will help to improve understanding of migration patterns and evaluate the risks of marine developments such as Hinkley Point power station and marine renewables.

In addition, the researchers were also one of the three successful organisations in this year’s £750,000 Welsh Government’s Tidal Lagoon Challenge, picking up the funding in the Environment category.

The Challenge is aimed at encouraging the development of research projects working in areas that could help to quantify a potential benefit of tidal lagoon development.

Working in partnership with Fish Guidance Systems Ltd, Natural England, Batri Ltd & DST Innovations Ltd, their work to use fish tagging and monitoring to test the effectiveness of acoustic fish deterrence (AFD) as a mitigation measure for tidal range deployment impressed judges.

Delighted staff, who began tracking fish in 2019, say the double recognition of the successful bids brings will allow them to build on and develop their existing work at Swansea.

Project Director Dr David Clarke said: “This funding really is vitally important to our ongoing research. It is supporting migration studies looking at movements of acoustically tagged Atlantic salmon, sea trout and twaite shad, which will enable us to understand the risks of marine renewables to these species.

“It will also enable us to develop and refine mitigation techniques – acoustic fish deterrence ­- to better protect these important natural assets.”