Tyne & Wear

New fish pass opened on the River Derwent

Fish pass on the River Derwent
Image caption The new pass is an easier route over the weir for the fish

Salmon, sea trout and eels are now able to swim through a new fish pass on the River Derwent in Northumberland for the first time in over 300 years.

Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon opened the new pass at Swalwell, Gateshead.

Until now, salmon and sea trout were unable to travel very far up-river to spawn because of the restrictive weir.

Passing fish will be closely monitored by underwater cameras at the pass.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that Britain's rivers are the healthiest for over 20 years.

This higher quality of water means that salmon, sea trout, otters, and other wildlife can return for the first time since the industrial revolution.

Over the past 25 years, baby eel stocks in rivers have fallen by 95%.

Mr Benyon said: "By allowing salmon and sea trout to return, this fish pass will create exciting new opportunities for fishing in the area and benefit the local economy."

The Environment Agency is also revitalising 9,000 miles of Britain's rivers by 2015.

The project will include habitat creation for endangered species such as water voles.

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