Charity warns that tidal lagoon In Swansea Bay could prove disastrous for iconic Welsh fish

Although S&TCC supports renewable energy schemes, the charity believes we cannot afford for such supposedly green projects to produce unintended environmentally damaging consequences.

Of principle concern is the effect the barrage might have on local populations of the iconic national fish of Wales, the sewin (sea trout), which is as important to the cultural heritage of Wales as is the Atlantic salmon to the Scots or the brown trout and chalk streams to the English.

S&TCC’s Chairman, Richard Garner Williams, said, “Little is known of the sewin’s habits during their marine phase, which prompts us to encourage developers and regulators alike to consult with Southampton University and their current research project on this issue, which could shed further invaluable light on the impact of this project.”

Mr Garner Williams continued, “The Rivers Tawe and Neath are both noted sewin rivers and the migration of fish between the two is not well known but highly probable. Swansea Bay is a known spawning ground for sand eels and other prey species, which constitute a valuable food resource for sewin during their marine phase. The construction of the lagoon could have a major impact on both the inshore migration routes and feeding grounds of local sewin populations. The rocky nature of the reef will also offer an ideal refuge and habitat for the marine predators of young sewin and salmon as they run to sea as juveniles presenting an even greater risk to this iconic species.”

S&TCC’s Wales Officer, Helen Jobson, added, “For all we know, albeit further to the west beyond the Gower Peninsula, the sewin of those rivers entering the sea in Carmarthen Bay – the Loughor, Gwendraeth Fach, Tywi and Taf – might also migrate to or through Swansea Bay. Mature salmon returning to rivers east of Swansea Bay – Taff, Usk Wye and Severn. – might also be affected if their migratory route follows the northern shoreline of the Severn Estuary. 'With so much at stake, relying on modelling alone is insufficient. A thorough mapping of actual fish migration routes and feeding grounds should be undertaken and submitted for peer review before any final decision is made.”

Meanwhile, one crumb of comfort is that the Hendry Report recommends a time lag between constructing the Swansea Bay lagoon and any further hydro development on the Welsh coast. Paul Knight, CEO of Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, said, “We do not know how this project has potentially got the green-light without considering the disastrous consequences for these iconic fish species. However, If Swansea Bay can be a genuine research project that takes into account the environmental consequences as well as the energy-producing benefits, then at least we will have a better understanding on which to base future decisions.”

For further information, please contact: Morag Walker: email: morag@moragwalkerpr.co.uk or mobile: 07736 12409

Notes to editors:

Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) was established as the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) in 1903 to address the damage done to our rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Throughout its history and to the present day, S&TC UK has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment for the public benefit. S&TC UK has charitable status in England, Wales and Scotland and its charitable objectives empower it to address all issues affecting fish and the aquatic environment, supported by robust evidence from its scientific network, and to take the widest possible remit in protecting salmonid fish stocks and the aquatic environment upon which they depend. www.salmon-trout.org