New home for threatened fish; Rare young arctic charr get safe lake after algae crisis.
A BACK-UP population of a rare fish under threat of extinction has been released into a North Wales lake.
About 800 young arctic charr, a species which can only be found in a few deep, cold lakes across the region, are now swimming in Llyn Crafnant in the Conwy Valley, thanks to Environment Agency Wales. The creatures are under threat of dying out in Llyn Padarn, Llanberis, and setting up a second brood has ensured they will not become extinct altogether.
An explosion in the population of potentially poisonous blue green algae at Llyn Padarn last year is also being investigated, in a bid to improve the water quality there.
David Edwell, area manager for Environment Agency Wales, said: "Llyn Padarn is a vital part of the community and economy in North Wales. Trying to find a solution to avoid a repeat of what we saw in 2009 is one of our top priorities.
"But it is not only businesses that rely on the lake. The arctic charr also need a good habitat to thrive. Setting up the secondary population is a safety net - but we are determined to find a way to improve the conditions at Llyn Padarn so they can continue to inhabit the lake." The 2009 algae outbreak at Llyn Padarn was caused by what was dubbed the 'perfect storm' - a combination of relatively high phosphates, weather conditions and high water temperature.
This year, no blue green algae were detected in the lake.
The one-year study into the causes of the algae in 2009 is due to end next month.
Discharge consents at Llanberis sewage treatment works have also been tightened to control the quality of effluent entering the lake.
The charr released into Llyn Crafnant were hatched and raised from eggs collected at Llyn Padarn in December last year.
They have been cared for at the Mawddach Hatchery, near Dolgellau, for the past 11 months.
Mr Edwell has thanked estate managers Carter Jones, lake owners Crafnant Trust and fishery owners Anne and Joe Collins for offering the baby charr a new home He added: "Charr are a unique and threatened species in North Wales and we are determined to protect them.
"This work relies heavily on our partners, the companies we regulate and the goodwill of the landowners for allowing us to use their lake for this vital work."
About 800 young arctic charr (inset right) have been put into Llyn Crafnant (main) to secure the threatened species' future after blue-green algae threatened their original home of Llyn Padarn (inset left)