This two-year project in the tidal Thames by ZSL has recently completed, and here is a summary of the information gathered during the project.

Smelt Survey Results

During the project we caught a total of 455 smelt fry and 28 smelt eggs, using two survey methods: ichthyoplankton netting (towing a micromesh plankton net just below the water surface to catch very small smelt fry) and seine netting (encircling an area of water by the foreshore with a sheet of net to catch all the fish in the enclosed area). These data have been used to narrow down the most likely smelt spawning location to a 600m stretch of the Thames by Wandsworth Bridge. We have also shown that smelt are likely to spawn over an elongated period of 5 weeks from the beginning of March and provided information on smelt growth rates in the region. In addition, over 70 citizen scientists helped throughout the project to understand the ecology of a number of fish species in the region. Find out more here.

Tidal Thames Guidance Document

Over the course of the project, we realised that fish were often under-represented in local strategy documents and in some Biodiversity Action Plans. To fill this gap, we produced a Guidance Document to Conserve Tidal Thames Fish through the Planning Process to provide a single point of reference for information relating to fish conservation in the Tidal Thames. This document was developed through feedback from multidisciplinary stakeholders and will be used during the planning process to better conserve fish in the region. We would really appreciate your help sharing this document with colleagues/partners who you think would be interested. Download a copy here.

Smelt Historical Research

A group of research volunteers looked into the importance of the historical smelt fishery to London, particularly during the early nineteenth century. This information has been condensed into the Thames Times (see below), but more detailed accounts can be found on the TDP website.

Smelt Newspaper by Thames Discovery Programme on Scribd

ZSL’s Tidal Thames Film

Find out more about ZSL’s conservation work in the Thames by watching our new film, which follows a range of projects in the Thames region. Further information on ZSL’s Thames Fish conservation work can be found at here.