RIVERS in the North-East region will be stocked with 12,000 grayling in a bid to boost natural populations of the species.

The Environment Agency will this week stock 14 sites across the region including Clow Beck near Darlington, the River Browney near Langley Park, River Gaunless near West Auckland and the River Deerness at Esh Winning.

The sites will be stocked with grayling which have been reared at the Environment Agency’s fish farm.

These rivers have suffered from poor water quality and habitat degradation in the past, but concerted efforts by the Environment Agency and partners including both the Tees and Wear Rivers Trusts is helping to turn these watercourses around.

Clow Beck flows into the River Tees near Darlington and the Environment Agency recently constructed a fish pass at a redundant gauging station near to the beck’s confluence with the Tees. This was in conjunction with 4km of habitat improvement that included another fish pass further upstream, built by the Tees Rivers Trust with the help of local farmers and volunteers.

The Wear Rivers Trust has worked to get fish past several obstacles on the River Deerness and have several more in their sights.

Environment Agency fisheries officers Robbie Stevenson said: “We are pleased with the way the restoration of these watercourses has gone and it is now time to help fish stocks recover.

“It is good news for local anglers and conservation alike as there should be a wider variety of healthy adult fish in our rivers.”