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£20 million boost to fishing on UK’s longest river

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A unique viewing gallery at Diglis Weir is part of the near £20 million River Severn improvement project.

In the largest project of its kind ever attempted in Europe, one of England’s most iconic rivers is set to benefit from a near £20 million improvement which will boost fish stocks and recreational fishing.

The major wildlife project, which includes the installation of the UK’s first ever underwater viewing gallery, will reopen the River Severn to all fish species, many of which became extinct in the upper reaches following the installation of weirs required to power the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. The work will remove blockages and secure the long-term future of many of the UK’s declining and protected fish species by substantially increasing access to spawning grounds.

The project was developed as part of a three-year collaborative partnership to secure funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Union. The most talked about development is the installation of the unique viewing area at Diglis Weir, in Worcester, where large shoals of barbel, chub and predator fish gather. It has been described as a major boost for recreational fishing.

John Ellis, National Fisheries and Angling Manager, told Angling Times, the UK’s top-selling fishing weekly newspaper, that the project was great news for the sport. “In the past fishing’s big problem was that the general public can’t see what is going on under the surface. But this window will open up an underwater world and give people an incredible insight into the lives of fish, their surroundings and their importance to our natural world.

“This work will open up more of our waterways for coarse and game species to become more widespread, improving habitats and river environments. It is great news that more conservation bodies are recognising fish and angling.”

James Cross, Chief Executive Officer of Rural England, added: “Today more than six million people live in proximity of the River Severn and the project will build upon the wide economic and social benefits to local communities that the river brings.

“Recreational and commercial fishing activities contribute £15 million to the river each year. The project will build on this by restoring fish populations to bring additional economic benefits, as well as enhancing recreational and tourism opportunities along the river.”

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