Thursday, 07 July 2022

Woman’s 24-hour salmon fishing marathon to help restore spawning waters

Woman’s 24-hour salmon fishing marathon to help restore spawning waters

AN environmentalist is taking part in a salmon fishing marathon in aid of restoring their spawning waters.

Karen Woolley, 66, of South Stoke Road, Woodcote, will fish for 24 hours next Friday in the upper reaches of the River Dee in

She says climate change is warming the river and juvenile salmon are dying in the treeless landscape.

Mrs Woolley will be part of a team of 30 anglers supporting a project by the River Dee Trust to plant millions of native trees along the banks to provide shade and lower the water temperature in these salmon nursery streams.

She aims to raise at least £3,000 to fund more than 1,000 trees along a barren stretch of the river. Any fish caught will be returned to the river. Mrs Woolley said: “Time is running out for the salmon as well as for other species that live in our rivers.

“North Atlantic salmon may disappear from our rivers within the next 20 years. Their numbers have declined by two-thirds in the last 40 years as they have suffered catastrophic losses at sea.

“For me this is about the need to step in to prevent the decline in our environment, which is moving at a steady pace.

“The fact is our weather system is changing. Our weather is warming and the juvenile salmon are dying as the waters heat up. We no longer have the cold waters in the uplands we used to.

“It’s critical we crack on as quickly as possible. It should be of concern to us all. What happens in Scotland has a knock-on effect.

“I want to raise as much money as I can. Every pound will go to planting trees.”

Mrs Woolley spent her career in the environmental sector and 11 years ago she founded a grant-making charity, the Trust for Oxfordshire Environment.

She has lived in Woodcote for 34 years and was a parish councillor for 12 years. Her husband Liam is chairman of Woodcote Conservation Group, which she set up in 2000.

Mrs Woolley has been interested in angling since she was a child but only took it up seriously when she was in her fifties.

She said: “My grandfather was a great fly fisherman and I coarse- fished as a child. I wanted to fly fish but life got in the way until my husband bought me a day’s fishing and I absolutely loved it.

“When I’m wading in a river I feel like I am part of nature and not just watching it. As long as I am able to climb into and wade in a river I cannot let these beautiful habitats and precious resources disappear on my watch. There is a real sense of urgency about this.”

The fishing challenge will be filmed for an ITV programme hosted by Robson Green to be shown later this year.

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