Rebuild the Wensum

History of NACA - Rebuilding the Wensum

Riffle building -  Getting the materials on siteThe association's first step into practical conservation started when it took on 1.5 miles of the upper Wensum, in order to undertake a major fishery habitat restoration program as an attempt to begin reversing the fortunes of the river. This fishery was ideal for restoration. Despite being damaged by dredging in the 50s, it had a fairly good flow that could be manipulated in various ways and by undertaking this work, two objectives could be fulfilled. Firstly it could prove the viability of restoring a river damaged by dredging, and thus provide a blueprint for others to follow and secondly, by creating a suitable habitat and stocking it with barbel, a future for the species would be assured in the Wensum upstream of the abstraction threatened stocks at Costessey.

The riffle takes shape This work has been ongoing ever since and has included the construction of two large shallow gravel riffles to facilitate improved spawning and increase the elevation of the flow. Several areas of the river have also been narrowed and dug into deeper pools and hundreds of riverside willows and alders have been planted. An off-river backwater has also been created to provide a fry-refuge for over-wintering fry. The combination of these efforts has improved the fishery beyond measure. 1,600 4 to 8-inch barbel were stocked into the fishery over a period of five years. These have been growing at the rate of up to around 1.5lb per year, Riffle building - the finishing touchesthe biggest of which now run far into double figures. Also they are successfully breeding.

 The success of this project has led to the association more recently taking on the old Costessey point Fishery (formally known as Ketteringham’s) and undertaking a second river habitat restoration project designed to help mitigate against the problems caused by over-abstraction. Having secured and spent £3000 grant funding this hugely ambitious project has recently been completed including the installation of three riffles and two large fry-refuges. The stretch has also been seeded with 1000 immature barbel.