UK. Back up population of Arctic charr established at north Wales lake

Tuesday, 09 November 2010

Arctic charr, a species of fish which is at threat of extinction in Llyn Padarn, have today been released into Llyn Crafnant to establish a back-up population by Environment Agency Wales.

Dwindling numbers of the Arctic charr (also known as the torgoch) in Llyn Padarn, Llanberis, are causing concern for their future.

The young charr that are to be released into Llyn Crafnant were hatched and raised from eggs collected from 25 adults caught at Llyn Padarn in December last year. They have been cared for at the Mawddach Hatchery, near Dolgellau for the past 11 months.

800 of the charr have now reached a suitable age for release into Llyn Crafnant, near Trefriw in the Conwy Valley, as work is ongoing to improve the water quality at Llyn Padarn.

Arctic charr can only be found in a few cold, deep lakes in North Wales where they have  developed into distinct populations.

Setting up a secondary population should mean if they were to disappear from Llyn Padarn the population would not be in danger of extinction.

Last year an assessment by the Countryside Council for Wales carried out under IUCN guidelines – the international standard for conservation of endangered species – concluded that the Llyn Padarn charr population was in imminent danger of extinction and that a backup population should be established in another suitable lake while Llyn Padarn was being restored.

In 2009, Llyn Padarn suffered from an algal bloom caused by what was dubbed the ‘perfect storm’ due to a combination of relatively high phosphates, weather conditions and high water temperature.

This year, no blue green algae was detected in the lake.

Environment Agency Wales is working with the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), Gwynedd Council, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and First Hydro Company on a long-term project to improve water quality at the lake for people and for the wildlife that lives there.

A one year study into the causes of the blue green algae in 2009 is due to end in December. It has examined the issues in the lake through each of the four seasons to gauge the condition of the lake under different conditions.

The study will lead the Agency and other partners to draw up an action plan to tackle the cause of the algal blooms in Llyn Padarn.

Discharge consents at Llanberis Sewage Treatment Works have already been tightened to control the quality of effluent entering the lake.

A Llyn Padarn Forum of local businesses and community groups has been established to provide advice and feedback on this work.

David Edwell, Area Manager for Environment Agency Wales, said:

“Llyn Padarn is a vital part of the community and economy in north Wales. Trying to find a solution to avoid a repeat of what we saw in 2009 is one of our top priorities.

“But it is not only businesses that rely on the lake, the Arctic charr also need a good habitat to thrive. Setting up the secondary population is a safety net – but we are determined to find a way to improve the conditions at Llyn Padarn so they can continue to inhabit the lake.

“We also want to thank the owners of the lake for allowing us to create this secondary population of Arctic charr. Charr are a unique and threatened species in north Wales and we are determined to protect them. This work relies heavily on our partners, the companies we regulate and the goodwill of the landowners for allowing us to use their lake for this vital work.”

The Agency would like to thank Carter Jones (Estate managers), Crafnant Trust (Estate owners) and Anne & Joe Collins (fishery owner/tennants) for their co-operation to set up the secondary population at Llyn Crafnant.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 November 2010 )