New efforts to protect endangered Welsh Arctic char

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A rare population of fish in Wales have been saved from extinction. One of the remaining three natural populations of Arctic char, (Salvelinus alpinus alpinus) was under threat due to deteriorating water conditions in Llyn Padarn, Llanberis, Gwynedd.

While measures are taken to improve the lake's water quality, 800 young char raised from eggs taken from adult fish last December are being released into Llyn Crafnant, near Trefriw, Conwy county, where it is hoped they will thrive, forming a back-up population that can be used to restock Llyn Padarn in future if necessary.

The lake had been suffering from harmful algal blooms believed to be caused by a combination of relatively high phosphates, weather conditions and raised water temperature.

Environment Agency Wales reports that this year Llyn Padarn has been algae free, but it has teamed up with the Countryside Council for Wales, Gwynedd council, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and First Hydro Company on a new long-term action plan to improve water quality for wildlife and local people, the first stage of which is a tightening of discharge consents from Llanberis sewage works whose effluent enters the lake.

The Arctic Char is a member of the salmon family, and grows to a maximum of around 1m and 15kg but are more typically considerably smaller. The species occurs mainly in lakes, but is also found in rivers, while some populations are anadromous, spending much of their life in the sea, only returning to freshwater to breed. They like cool, well oxygenated conditions and feed upon a wide range of planktonic crustaceans, amphipods, molluscs, insects and fishes.