WORK has been completed on a new quarter of a million pound fish pass on the Western Cleddau at Haverfordwest. Town Weir Fish Pass, incorporating the latest in fish pass technology, will improve access for all species of migratory fish including salmon and sea trout, eels and also the rare and endangered sea lamprey.

The previous fish pass had for a long time been considered ineffective. Its design required fish to leap from pool to pool. Because of the way it was built, during both high and low flow conditions fish were unable to use it. It also collected debris, which regularly blocked it completely, which meant that salmon and sea trout were unable to negotiate the weir except on high tides. Fish delayed by the weir accumulated downstream where they were vulnerable to predation and seals were frequently seen taking salmon from below the weir.

Fish will no longer have to jump from pool to pool. They will be able ascend simply by swimming ‘up hill’ through the pass. This new design, known as a ‘super active bottom baffle’ allows fish to ascend easily over a wide range of river flows. The specially designed baffles effectively reduce the water velocity within the pass so that fish can ascend without the need to jump. Another benefit is that the new, open structure will be effectively self-cleaning and therefore will not block as easily as the old pass. In addition to the main fish pass a specially designed eel pass has been installed. This pass incorporates a soft plastic mesh, which allows young eels (elvers) to climb up over the weir.

The fish pass is part of the Agency’s Fishing Wales Project, which is funded from the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Objective 1 Programme. Additional funding has also come from Pembrokeshire Angling Association, Haverfordwest Town Council and the Countryside Council for Wales.

Studies have shown that fishing, and angling tourism in particular, is worth up to £63 million a year to the Welsh economy. Town Weir fish pass, and the other schemes funded by Fishing Wales, represent an investment in securing the sustainable growth of this important market.

Mark White, Chairman of Pembrokeshire Anglers said: “Everyone connected with Pembrokeshire Anglers Association is absolutely delighted with the long awaited fish pass. We hope to see an immediate increase in migratory fish stocks in the Western Cleddau. Thanks to everyone involved in bringing this project to fruition.”

In addition to the fish pass the Agency, in partnership with local anglers and the Pembrokeshire’s Rivers Trust are also delivering habitat improvements, which will benefit fisheries.

Ben Wilson, Sustainable Fisheries Project Officer for the Agency said: “We are very pleased to have finished this pass, it’s been in the pipeline for a long time. Projects like this, and our extensive habitat improvement projects, are only possible thanks to funding from Welsh Assembly Government. It is essential that this funding continues if we are to continue to develop sustainable fisheries in Wales.”

Construction work on the fish pass began in September 2003.

Anyone who sees pollution, illegal tipping of waste, poaching, fish in distress or danger to the natural environment can contact the Agency’s emergency hotline on 0800 80 70 60. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, calls are free and will be treated in the strictest confidence.