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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 06:34 GMT
Surprise salmon in Mersey
Pollution is a threat to wild salmon stocks
The first salmon has been caught in living memory in the once-heavily polluted waters of River Mersey, environmentalists have announced.

Environment Agency scientists trapped the 90cm-long fish, which weighed 6.7 kilograms, at Woolston Weir, near Warrington, Cheshire, before releasing it back into the water.

The find coincided with the publication of the agency's latest water quality survey.

The report showed waterways in England and Wales were probably cleaner than they have been since before the Industrial Revolution.

Marine life

The survey also found that 94% of rivers were of good or fair quality in 2000, compared with less than 85% in 1990.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said the salmon appeared to have been living in the Mersey for some time.

"It is the first time one has been caught in living memory - the Mersey has suffered from pollution over the years.

"There have been sightings recently and we wanted to ascertain whether they were true.

"It does mean, obviously, the water is becoming a little bit better."

A report earlier this year showed kingfisher sightings on the River Mersey were up by 28.5% while an octopus had also been spotted.

Click here to go to BBC Liverpool Online
See also:

29 Oct 01 | England
Salmon return to river
29 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Anglers' heaven after great escape
06 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Salmon tagging scheme criticised
20 Apr 01 | UK
A tale of two rivers
18 Jun 01 | Scotland
Salmon farming under fire
20 Sep 00 | Scotland
River catches at all-time low
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