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In 1858 the Rev William Keighley wrote that the River Aire:
“affords dares, oumers (grayling), minnows, perches, eels, gudgeons; and salmon, when out of season, come up to the town at Michaelmas, when poor folk begin to catch them with blazing iron forks.”
400 years later the iconic salmon is missing from much of our River Aire.
Poachers would have hunted at night with with trident salmon spear similar to this by the light of burning torches © DCSDC Museum and Heritage Service
The Industrial Revolution created huge growth in our cities. The weirs that powered the flourishing woollen mills blocked the way for migratory fish. Whilst from the factories and worker’s homes waste poured into the river.
So, why do we care about salmon? DNAire is about far more than just salmon and will benefit coarse fish as well as eels and lampreys. However, the presence of salmon in a river is an indicator of a healthy aquatic environment. Salmon are extremely sensitive to changes in water quality, habitat and climate. By returning salmon to the River Aire we can demonstrate the value of all the work that has gone into cleaning up our rivers by industry and regulators. Their return is a huge final step in restoring our natural heritage to its full glory.
We believe that a healthier fish population will benefit all the wildlife on the river making it an even more enjoyable place to visit.