Rare fish returns to breed in Cornish river

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Large numbers of one of the UK's rarest fish species, the Allis shad (Alosa alosa) have been recorded by the Environment Agency (EA) in the Tamar estuary in Cornwall.

EA officials monitoring the river's fish populations have identified at least three spawning sites and also recorded an increase in numbers as well as size of fish, with the largest specimen captured measuring 52cm/20" and weighing 1.9kg/4.2lb.

The Allis shad is related to Herring and spends most of its life in shallow coastal sea waters, only returning to freshwater to breed after which most adults die.

Currently only the Tamar and the Solway Firth on the border between Scotland and England are known to be used by the fish for breeding, with the Cornish population being almost wiped out in the last century as a result of mining pollution.

The species is in decline throughout its range on the western coasts of Europe with river pollution, along with the fact that the species does not easily travel past manmade river obstacles like dams and weirs, thought to be factors in this.

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