Record numbers of salmon and sea trout have been found in English rivers this year, according to figures released by the Environment Agency today.

More than 15,000 fish have been recorded migrating upriver in the Tyne, the highest number since records began – 50 years ago, there were no fish in the river at all.

Record numbers of sea trout have also been recorded in the Thames, where once fish in the lower reaches of the river were wiped out due to pollution, and the River Mersey, once described as the most polluted river in Europe, is the cleanest it has been for a century.

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The improvements have been achieved through investment by water companies, tougher action on polluters, reduction in discharges from industry, changes in farming practices and many local volunteer projects by rivers trusts and wildlife groups.

The Environment Agency has announced plans to clean up an additional 9,500 miles of river. Chief executive Paul Leinster says: ‘Rivers are at their cleanest for over a century, and we are working hard to ensure the trend continues. Tackling discharges from sewage treatment works, industry, agriculture and son on is essential.’