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CARDIFFBAYADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 15th March, 2012.

 

Present:

 

Mrs. C. Dimond (Vice-Chairman)

Cardiff Flood Action Committee

Mr. J. Harrison

Environment Agency Wales

Mrs. S. Newbold

British Marine Federation / CBYC / RYA

Mr. S. Jones

Quay Marinas Ltd.

 

Also present:

 

Mr. S. Howell

Cardiff Harbour Authority

Mr. C. Rees

Environment Agency Wales

Mr. C. Hope

Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

 

(a)       Apologies for Absence -

 

These were received from Councillor P. Church (Chairman), Dr. S. Howard (Countryside Council for Wales),  Mr. P. Barry (Cardiff Yacht Club) and Councillor N. Howells (Cardiff City Council).

 

 

(b)       Minutes -

 

AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th January, 2012 be accepted as a correct record.

 

 

(c)        Progress Update - Cardiff Harbour Authority - Mr. Simon Howell -

 

Mr. Howell, Operational Manager for the Harbour Authority, apprised the Committee on the following matters:

 

There had been no water quality issues since the last meeting, with low rainfall and relatively small accumulations of debris over this period.  The barrage fishpass and lock gates had returned to normal operation after the planned maintenance programmes had been completed.

 

The dredging of the outer harbour would be completed next week which was the final campaign under the current three year contract.  Tenders were currently being sought for the next contract which may extend for up to five years.

 

The water bus landing at the BBC / Dr Who site was currently under construction.  This would be piled next week and the former Cardiff Yacht Club beach area had also been cleaned up as part of the works.

 

The Taff erosion repair contract downstream of Wood Street water bus stop had recently been completed and works on the access steps at Pont y Werin had commenced on site.  This scheme included some landscaping of the embankment and a temporary extension of the footpath through this area that was being funded by the Vale of Glamorgan Council.

 

Several enquiries had been received from commercial boat operators to develop new activities in Cardiff Bay over the past few months.  The operator of HMS 69 had acquired a larger replacement vessel, the Dorset Belle, that could take up to around 130 passengers and they intended to operate coastal cruises as well as trips within Cardiff Bay this year.

 

Penarth Marina lock gates were due to be closed for maintenance between 19th and 30th March and a notice had been issued to mariners about this to assist Quay Marinas with the dissemination of this information.

 

 

(d)       Navigational Safety Issues -

 

South Wales Fire and Rescue had ordered their vessel and should receive this in the next month.  Following trials this should be operational and berthed within Cardiff Bay from July.  The RNLI were carrying out trials and a decision on whether to site one of their vessels in the Bay should be made shortly.

 

One of Cardiff Sea Safaris’ vessels caught fire and sank in Cardiff Marina recently.  Although this was outside the controlled area it highlighted the type of incident that could occur with vessels in the area and further information on the likely cause was awaited.

 

There was a large abandoned vessel in Cardiff Bay for which efforts were being made to remove as it was in a relatively poor condition and had no confirmed owner.  The appropriate legal notices were being progressed and it was hoped to remove the vessel within the next few weeks.

 

 

(e)       Verbal Update - Environment Agency Wales Fishery Interests -

 

Development of Bay Fish Populations Since Impoundment in 2000

 

The Bay was populated by downstream drifting coarse fish fry in the first Spring after impoundment.  Drift is a natural phenomenon and, interestingly, indicates the natural extent of drift to estuaries and therefore lost coarse fish production that was occurring before impoundment and still occurs in other rivers.  It was a natural phenomenon.

 

Very high populations of chub fry were evident in the first year and since then the balance of species has shifted to roach.

 

The first year’s input of fry in 2000 would have matured in about 2003 and from then the Bay stock would have added to the annual fry production.

 

The development of the Bay fish population had been monitored with annual hydro acoustic surveys. These reveal the distribution of fish in the Bay and their relative abundance with some information on fish sizes.  This had shown a stock of fish developing towards carrying capacity for the Bay - but it was not yet there.

 

Species present include those expected: roach, chub, perch, bream, carp, tench, but also unusual species for a large impoundment including grayling and barbel.  There was also increasing evidence of pike, the size of which indicate possible unauthorised introduction. Also present are migratory fish that have entered the bay from the sea: salmon, sea trout, eel and sea lamprey, all of which migrate through the Bay into the rivers Taff and Ely.  Some estuarine fish also enter the Bay each year: mullet and flounder.

 

 

Studies into Salmon and Sea Trout Populations

 

Development of the Barrage threatened the recovery of the Taff and Ely salmon and sea trout populations from extinction.

 

This was important as the whole future of the environment of the Taff and Ely was at stake.  Consequently a programme of monitoring of impact and mitigation of damage was agreed between the Development Corporation and the National Rivers Authority (and transferred to their successor bodies, Cardiff Harbour Authority and Environment Agency Wales).  This was implemented in 1990 and continued until 2007 - the timescale being determined by the timescale of construction and early establishment of the freshwater Bay environment.

 

Monitoring consisted of: stocking of tagged salmon smolts and quantification of their rate of return; trapping of adult salmon and sea trout entering the Taff, acoustic (marine environment) and radio (freshwater) tracking of tagged adult salon to investigate the mechanism of impact of the Barrage and Bay on migrations.

 

The conclusion of the study was that the Barrage was reducing the proportion of salmon that were able to enter the Taff. However a previously unknown phenomenon of failed estuary passage, and probably mortality, of salmon was also detected and has since been verified in studies elsewhere.  The conclusion was that although the Barrage was having an effect, this was not at a scale that would prevent the ongoing recovery of the salmon and sea trout populations of the river.

 

During this period , work was undertaken with Cardiff Harbour Authority on a range of matters including optimisation of the Barrage fish pass operations; fish counter development (a specific requirement of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Act 1993); impact assessment of a range of bayside developments; water quality management to manage potential impact on salmonids, etc.

 

The outcome of the study was that a legal mitigation commitment was triggered to correct for the damage to the salmon and sea trout populations.  Working closely with Cardiff Harbour Authority, a cheaper mitigating solution was devised that would deliver environmental improvements for all species of fish in the Taff and Ely catchments.  This included a substantial programme of fish pass construction and river habitat improvements that was currently ongoing, together with continued stock assessment to demonstrate the outcomes of this.

 

The current position was that the run of salmon and sea trout was now in the order of 300 and 300 respectively and the trend was one of increased numbers.  The work in the catchment meant that the fish can now reach their traditional spawning areas, last used in the 19th or 18th centuries, where they were now spawning successfully again.  The recovery of the river and its indigenous fish populations was therefore well underway.

 

New developments included:

 

-                      Countryside Council for Wales were proposing a new hydropower scheme with a much improved collaborately funded new fish pass at Radyr Weir

-                      improvements to fish migration at weirs at Merthyr Vale and Fiddlers Elbow

-                      close working relationship with South East Wales Rivers Trust on river habitat improvement schemes.

 

 

(f)         Progress Update - Environment Agency Wales – Mr. J. Harrison -

 

Mr. Harrison advised of a change to legislation which means the Welsh Government will now consider CHA dredging applications in the harbour entrance in the Estuary. 

 

Drought Orders had been imposed elsewhere in the country, but the reservoirs in Wales were quite full so no Drought Orders were anticipated as yet. 

 

A waste operation business on the Upper Ely River had been served a Notice requiring it to reduce pollution levels by improving its site drainage.  The business was now under new ownership and the owners had given an assurance that they would comply with the Notice. 

 

The Welsh Government’s Green Paper “Sustaining a Living Wales” was currently subject to consultation.  Mr. Harrison offered to provide a presentation to a future meeting of the Advisory Committee.  The Green Paper contained a whole host of new proposals and an emphasis on the use of natural resources for Communities and how the environment could be protected for future generations. 

 

 

 

 

(g)               Timetable of Meetings -

 

The report detailed suggested dates for future meetings of the Committee as detailed below:

 

DATE

VENUE

 

Wednesday, 19th September, 2012 at 5.15 p.m.

 

Cardiff Bay Harbour Authority Offices

 

Wednesday, 21st November, 2012 at 5.15 p.m.

 

Ditto

 

Wednesday, 16th January, 2013 at 5.15 p.m.

 

Ditto

 

Wednesday, 13th March, 2013 at 5.15 p.m.

 

Ditto

 

Wednesday, 5th June, 2013 at 5.15 p.m. (Annual Meeting)

 

Ditto

 

AGREED – T H A T the Timetable of Meetings as detailed above be approved.

 

 

(h)        Information Report – Cardiff Tourism Strategy Update (Cardiff Destination Action Plan) -

 

The report had been presented to the Executive of Cardiff Council on 8th March 2012 with approval being sought for the Cardiff Destination Action Plan to be an aid to the delivery of Cardiff’s objective of becoming a world class visitor destination.

 

AGREED – T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

 

(i)         Date of Next Meeting -

 

AGREED – T H A T the next meeting be held on Wednesday, 6th June, 2012 at 5.00 p.m. in the Cardiff Harbour Authority Offices.

 

 

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