LIFE Dee River is an ambitious, multi-million pound river restoration project to transform the River Dee. The Dee is the largest river in North Wales and has been designated as a Special Area for Conservation. It is the first river restoration project in Wales which addresses several issues across such a large, cross-border catchment.

The 5-year project will bring multiple benefits to the environment, particularly monitoring and improving conditions for threatened species such as Atlantic salmon, sea lamprey, river lamprey and freshwater pearl mussels, and helping them build sustainable populations.

To monitor the salmon and lamprey populations, the project team will be utilising Innovasea (previously Vemco) acoustic transmitting fish tags, supplied and supported by RS Aqua. The tags will allow the accurate monitoring of the fish movements, delays and aggregations and help the project team define baseline data; demonstrating the benefits of the interventions carried out under the project as it progresses.

Photo courtesy of Megan McNutt, NRW

Experienced staff within the project team will carry out tagging on a range of fish species, under relevant Home Office licences, and work with external organisations to analyse the data gathered. This will facilitate dissemination of best practises in future on other river restoration projects.

Joel Rees-Jones, Project Manager for LIFE Dee River, said:

“We are incredibly pleased to be working with RS Aqua and Innovasea in a formalised way, allowing us to use their high quality tags and associated equipment to investigate movements of fish within the Dee, and demonstrate the positive impacts of modifying structures that were previously having a detrimental impact on migration.  

We have used Vemco tags on previous projects on the Dee and have been impressed with the reliability and ease of use of the tags and equipment.  In addition, Ryan and the rest of the team at RS Aqua have always provided great customer service and advice.”

Having only launched a few months ago, the project has already achieved its first major milestone; removing a redundant weir on an upper tributary of the River Dee. By eliminating this partial barrier to fish movement, the project hopes to demonstrate a positive effect on ease of fish movement, as well as improving the hydromorphology of the river which will benefit the entire ecosystem.

To find out more about the project, please visit the project’s webpage, follow @LIFEAfonDyfrdwy on social media or email the team at

The LIFE Dee River project is generously funded by the EU LIFE programme, Welsh Government, Environment Agency, Snowdonia National Park Authority, Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water.
Cover Image Credits: Jack Perks Photography
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