Speed cameras set up to catch high-velocity salmon

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The Independent Online

Road hogs and boy racers will sympathise. Speed cameras were yesterday being set up in a secret location to trap a new class of aggressive and hormone-driven traveller ­ the spawning salmon.

Road hogs and boy racers will sympathise. Speed cameras were yesterday being set up in a secret location to trap a new class of aggressive and hormone-driven traveller ­ the spawning salmon.

The technology used to bring the nation's speed merchants to heel has been cannibalised by fisheries experts in Hampshire to monitor numbers of Atlantic Salmon heading up the county's rivers.

Such is the endangered breed's reputation for leaping waterfalls and passing by in an underwater blur with a flick of a dorsal fin, experts found the cameras were the best way to record their passage.

The Environment Agency has installed a series of cameras at known river "salmon passes" ­ the fish world equivalent of the M1's fast lane ­ to capture the animals on the way to their breeding grounds.

Each camera is triggered by the electrical impulse created by the passing movement of the fish and sends a digital image of each individual mature salmon back to scientists.

Atlantic Salmon, like other types of the species, return to the rivers where they were born to breed ­ fighting upstream over all barriers to reach their destination.

But salmon numbers in Hampshire's chalk streams have dropped dramatically in recent years ­ spurring conservation bodies to take action to encourage recovery.

Derek-John Gent, the fisheries scientist behind the scheme, said: "By providing this vital data we can develop strategies to ensure the conservation of the Atlantic Salmon which is a central part of Hampshire's natural heritage."

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