Arctic Charr numbers increase in Ennerdale

Arctic Charr numbers have increased in Ennerdale Water thanks to a conservation project.

Numbers of charr had dwindled to just a few hundred during the last couple of decades, from a population estimated around 11,000.

The Wild Ennerdale Partnership, which is returning the valley to a more natural ecosystem, has worked on a number of measures to help improve conditions for fish like charr and also salmon.

Arctic Charr

Arctic Charr numbers have increased in Ennerdale Water

Peter McCullough, Environment Agency fisheries technical officer and project manager for the Ennerdale Arctic Charr project, said: This is fantastic news for the biodiversity of the Lake District.”

Arctic Charr

The charr found in Ennerdale are different to the charr found in other parts of the Lake District because they choose to spawn in a river, not the lake itself. However, they need a good supply of gravel flowing downstream in which to make their spawning nests – called redds.

A pipe bridge, which was a barrier to migrating fish and also crucially prevented gravel from flowing further downstream to the spawning sites close to Ennerdale Water, was removed from the River Liza in 1999.

The acid nature of the water has been improved by the felling of 150 hectares of conifers and replacing them with native broadleaves, Juniper and heathland.

Officers from the Environment Agency have also been removing charr eggs and sperm from migrating charr for four years. They have taken the eggs to a special hatchery and then juvenile charr are looked after until they are ready to be released back into the river the following summer – up to 15,000 at a time. It is believed that many of the fish that have benefited from this project are now returning to the River Liza to spawn themselves.

Over 500 charr are thought to be spawning in the River Liza this year and salmon have been spotted as far up the valley as the Black Sail youth hostel for the first time in around 20 years.

Wild Ennerdale Project

Wild Ennerdale is a partnership of people and organisations led by The Forestry Commission, National Trust, Natural England and United Utilities.

More information about the Wild Ennerdale project is available by visiting

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