The rare and protected twaite shad are being reintroduced to the Severn thanks to a conservation project by the Canal & River Trust. The project focuses on allowing the fish to return to their breeding grounds but issues remain in the estuary – where the fish spend the majority of their lives.  

Helping Twaite shad to Thrive

Twaite shad are part of the herring family, but differ in their spawning habits, as much as 25% of the UK population are known to be repeat spawners. The Twaite shad reintroduction is part of the Unlocking The Severn project, which aims to reopen 150 miles of the river by creating passes to allow the fish to move up and downstream around existing barriers.                              

EDF, who is currently constructing Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the estuary, is fighting for the removal of the Acoustic Fish Deterrent (AFD) that is specified within the requirements of the Development Consent Order (DCO). 

A Risk of Death

The AFD is designed to prevent the protected Twaite shad and other vulnerable fish from being pulled into the cooling tunnels by using Sound Projectors to deter their entry. The use of an AFD is best practice in the UK. In the last year, both the Environment Agency and an advisory report to The Welsh Government, have both recommended the installation of an AFD at Hinkley. The public enquiry on the removal of the AFD from the DCO is currently scheduled for June.

David Lambert, Managing Director of Fish Guidance Systems said: “We are really glad that reintroduction of twaite shad is being highlighted by the Canal and Rivers Trust. Early this year we shared evidence and answered questions from the Hinkley Point C Stakeholder Reference Group. The protection of our local ecosystems, especially in the face of climate change, is of paramount importance and is something Fish Guidance Systems has been working on for the last 25 years.”

He added: “Millions of fish a year is an almost unfathomable number. Fish are often underrepresented when it comes to habitat protection. I believe if the same number of birds were being killed by a single power generation plant every year, then systems equivalent to an AFD would be installed without hesitation.”

Twaite shad are currently protected by Appendix III of the Bern Convention and Appendix II and V of the European Community Habitats Directive. For more information on AFDs please visit our minisite.