"A Clear Future for our River"

Monthly Archives: July 2017

American signal crayfish – the law

We have recently had a number of emails and messages on social media from people who are unsure of the laws surrounding catching and handling American Signal crayfish, so we thought it would be beneficial to put up a post to explain.

American Signal Crayfish ©NNSS

The American Signal crayfish, as the name suggests, originates from North America. It was bought over to Europe in the 1970s and bred on farms for the restaurant trade. The crayfish escaped and now has well established populations all over the country,  particularly in the south. As well as being a voracious predator of plants, invertebrates, snails, small fish and fish eggs, the Signal crayfish carries the crayfish plague to which our native White-clawed crayfish is susceptible. Burrowing into the riverbank by the Signal crayfish can also cause bank erosion, as they create many inter-connecting tunnels that weaken the bank. This contributes to problems during flooding, livestock safety and stability of bankside structures.

Signal crayfish grow faster, reproduce at a faster rate, are more aggressive and are tolerant of a wider range of conditions than the White-clawed crayfish, and therefore out-compete the native species, which is now endangered.


European White-clawed crayfish © Freshwater Invertebrate Survey of Suffolk

The Law

It is illegal to trap and catch Signal crayfish without a license from the Environment Agency. Unfortunately, the native and American crayfish are extremely difficult to tell apart so where it is thought that native species are present, it is unlikely that a license will be granted for trapping. For more information and guidance on how to apply for a license by clicking this link.


Controlling American Signal Crayfish

As with many invasive species in our waterways, controlling and eliminating Signal Crayfish is so easy task. The best method is to prevent their spread in the first place, by making sure to Check, Clean and Dry all clothing and equipment when moving between different watercourses.

Trapping Signal Crayfish is not considered a viable option to reduce numbers, as this method is often selective to larger individuals.  These larger individuals reduce numbers of juvenile Signal Crayfish by out-competing them for prey and habitat and therefore by removing them, this allows juveniles to thrive and therefore populations to increase.

For more information on invasive species along the Bristol Avon Catchment, do get in touch with ourselves or our friends at the Avon Invasive Weeds Forum.

Fish population survey reports

The local Environment Agency team have recently published their fish population reports for the Bristol Avon catchment 2016, assessing the health of our rivers to inform future management.

Click below to read the reports:

Bristol Avon – fish population survey report

Bristol Avon – Wild Brown Trout population survey report

River Chew – fish population survey report

Somerset Frome – fish population survey report



Bristol Harbourside Festival Cardboard Boat Race!

As part of the Bristol Harbourside Festival 2017 BART Project Officers, Harriet and Claire, decided to enter the annual Cardboard Boat Race! The event was organised by the charity My Future My Choice and their programme Bristol Loves Tides.  The charity run interactive workshops for children to pratice teamwork skills, inspire them to develop their future careers and to teach them about water pollution and the importance of rivers to Bristol’s past and future.

HMS Eel!

It’s safe to say that with only a few evenings to build our boat, it wasn’t the most impressive looking vessel in the competition. The other boats were built by engineers and a boating club who took 6 weeks to build theirs, so we crossed our fingers and hoped that our boat would stay afloat and not disintegrate straight away!

After a fantastic start to the race, we were in the lead until we lost our paddles and were overtaken halfway. We paddled with our hands as fast as we could to get back to the dock, but HMS Eel finally gave up and started to sink. Determined not to give up, we each grabbed a corner of cardboard and swam dragging our boat behind us!

To our surprise two of the other boats had capsized and fallen apart, so BART secured 2nd place and the Team Spirit Award!

Go Team BART!

Thanks to those who donated their spare cardboard, and to everyone who came to support the event on the day! Click here to see a video of the race on our Facebook page.

Biss Family Fun day, Trowbridge

Do you live in the Trowbridge, Wiltshire area? Fancy exploring your local river? Join BART & Friends of Biss Meadows Country Park on the 13th August to explore the minibeasts that live within the river as well as to take part in lots of other river related activities. Plus there will be a BBQ – how could you resist!

Bristol Avon Waterblitz – the results!

The results are in and the Bristol Avon Waterblitz is now over! This is the first year that BART have run the Waterblitz, and it was a great success with 176 water quality samples taken and a total of 375 people involved!

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and the Greggs Foundation, we worked in partnership with FreshWater Watch to get as many people as possible to take a water quality sample from their local river or stream. The water quality testing kits measured the concentration of nitrates and phosphates, which are naturally occuring chemicals in rivers and are essential for life, but in high concentrations caused by sources of human pollution they can degrade water quality and harm aquatic life.

We had a great response to the Waterblitz, with many volunteers keen to contribute and learn more about the quality of their local river. Samples were taken from all across the Bristol Avon catchment, and it was so interesting to find out how the concentration of nitrates and phosphates varies in different water bodies. The results collected will aid us in gaining a better understanding of the state of the river environment, and provide an evidence base for future work.


A Duke of Edinburgh group from Playwood Forest School getting involved with the monitoring

To view the summary of the results, including graphs, maps and statistics please click the links below:

Waterblitz results page 1

Waterblitz results page 2

To see the results on the Freshwater Watch interactive map, please follow the link below:

A big thank you to all of our volunteers, the results you have collected are invaluable in helping us determine the health and quality of the freshwater bodies within the Bristol Avon catchment.

We hope that all those who took part enjoyed sampling your local river, and found it interesting to learn more about water quality. If you would like to get more involved in protecting and monitoring the water environment, see the links below for more information:
– Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) – Riverfly monitoring and volunteering as a BART Beacon

Bristol Water and Wessex Water – Learn more about what you can do at home