We want clean, healthy rivers full of fish and other creatures. And so do people who enjoy fishing.
We work with local fishing groups and landowners to keep the riverbanks protected from grazing animals and farm chemicals.
Farm animals' hooves trample the banks and churn up mud in the water. Muddy water stops fish like salmon from breeding because they need clean gravel on the riverbed to lay their eggs on. Animals also eat the plants on the riverbank, which are home to the insects that fish eat and are important hiding places for bigger creatures like water voles and otters. So, fencing farm animals away from the riverbanks means cleaner water, more plants, more insects and more fish.
The vast majority of fishermen follow rules preventing them from fishing when the fish are breeding. Additionally, some areas also have rules about how many people are allowed to fish and how many fish they are allowed to take out of the water. Also, many fisherman practice "catch and release," returning fish to the water immediately after being caught.
Otters dig out a large holes in the riverbank called a holts in which to rest, sleep and breed. Our staff and volunteers have built artificial holts to encourage otters to move into new areas along the rivers.
We survey the holts and the river banks to check where otters are living so we can help protect them. Otters are very shy creatures but you can see where they have been by looking for their footprints and their droppings, which are called spraints.
Although otters died out in most of the UK in the 1900s due to polluted water, they never left Northumberland National Park and now their numbers are now increasing, thanks to the cleaner water, plenty of fish and ready-made homes.