Thames Fishery Research Experiment celebrates 50th anniversary

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Thames Fishery Research Experiment celebrates 50th anniversary
Image source Unsplash

The Thames Fishery Research Experiment is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a steady increase in fish species recorded in the River Thames.

Since 1972 the environmental project has turned a passion for angling into a multi-agency citizen science exercise, using a fishing tournament to assess the health of the iconic river.

The Experiment sees more than 80 anglers gather on the foreshore of the River Thames, at Denton, Gravesend, to catch, record, and return fish to the water.

Partners include the City of London Corporation, which is the London Port Health Authority; the Environment Agency; the Port of London Authority; the Fishmongers’ and Water Conservators’ Companies; the Thames Estuary Partnership; Thames21; and the Institute of Fisheries Management.

Officials establish the environmental condition of the River Thames each year by assessing the variety, number, and size of fish species caught over time.

The results provide valuable data and information to organisations including the Environment Agency. And over the years, the experiment has proven that the Thames remains the cleanest river in Northern Europe.

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Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Port Health and Environmental Services Committee, Keith Bottomley, said: “The Thames Fishery Research Experiment tracks the number and variety of species recorded over time. For 50 years, the results have provided consistent, comparable data which are analysed to highlight improvements in the River’s health.

“The results show a clear link between a clean, healthy river, and the diversity of species that live in it. It also highlights the connection between efficient pollution controls and better biodiversity.”

There has been a steady increase in the species recorded over time, with only Whiting, Eels, Flounder and Sole found in the early 1970s. Today an average of 7.5 different species are recorded every year.

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