BRINGING salmon to Stalybridge is the aim for the town’s new river warden – and it is more likely than you may think.
Think of the River Tame and seeing the fish leaping out of the water may seem like a flight of fancy, especially after it was revealed one stretch had the highest amount of plastic pollution anywhere in the world.
But Warren Andrew is adamant the waterway can be transformed so salmon, which have been spotted as close as the River Goyt near Stockport, can be brought to the area with the introduction of ‘fish passes’ that can enable them to by-pass weirs.
And he is convinced the quality of water is already there. The fact he can catch brown trout of up to four pounds in the town centre highlights that.
Warren, who is now warden for the Mersey Rivers Trust, which looks after all the rivers that flow into the Mersey, of which the Tame is one, said: “The fishing in the River Tame is just as good as places around the country where people pay hundreds of pounds to fish – the river is completely free.
“There are salmon at a weir behind a Tesco supermarket in Stockport so we’ll be working to get them up here. That’s my plan.
“The River Tame is 28 miles long but the Goyt has had a lot of money spent on it and salmon have been seen in it.
“If we can get salmon running up to the Tame it would be amazing and would bring benefits to the local economy too as people may want to stay in things like bed and breakfasts nearby as they fish for salmon.
“The quality is there and you only have to see what breeds of fish and birds – like kingfishers – that live there to show it.
“Simply, they wouldn’t be there if the water wasn’t good enough.
“People believe nothing can survive in the river because of all the rubbish.
“I’ve even had 20-30 people stood on a bridge applauding me for catching fish out of the river.
“I’m stood there thinking, ‘It’s not a raw sewer, it’s a river’.”
But Warren and the Mersey Rivers Trust are under no illusions, it will take a lot of work and money to achieve his dream.
Recently, the Correspondent reported on how Massimo Malacrino and Ali San, manager of Deli Felice, jumped into the river to clear some of the rubbish.
However, Warren claims he saw for himself rubbish being dumped in the water during a recent meeting.
And volunteers are being sought, and recruited, as the bid to transform the river into a thriving piece of the community takes shape.
Warren, who lives in Millbrook, added: “The trust is all about improving the water quality and habitat.
“If we can get funding in place and individuals and groups to turn up and put work in with things like sampling the water quality, then we can really push on.
“If the fish cannot get past a lock or a weir then they need something to get past it and if something was put in place, there is only one way they will go.
“It can be something as simple as a concrete box but some of them can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“There are 14 weirs between Stockport and Stalybridge and then on to Millbrook, some of which are gradual ramps which a lot of fish can pass through but the biggest one is 15 foot.
“The trust and the Environment Agency are up for the challenge.
“We’d be working together and if the communities involved, we can work towards getting salmon coming up the river.
“Eighty per cent of the people we get in contact with are volunteering to get involved with what we want to do, which is a big change from when many thought it was just used as a dumping ground.
“If the trust can get 10 volunteers we can really get going and obviously the more we have the quicker any work can get done.
“We need as many as possible really – I organised a river clean-up of the Irwell in the Kersal area of Salford and 70 people volunteered.”