A cod caught by one member of the Mersey Estuary Hunt group. Photo Credit: Edward Barnes

Environment Europe25. January 2023

River Recovers: Once Biologically Dead, Now Thriving

A few decades ago, Europe’s Mersey River was declared “biologically dead” due to industrial and sewage pollution. Today, there is an abundance of life living within the river’s waters.

“Over the last 30 years, there’s been this tremendous regeneration, this renewal of the River Mersey that started slowly but is now picking up pace,” says Mike Duddy, who works for the Mersey Rivers Trust, a charity that works to improve the river both for the people and the wildlife who live in and by it. “The Mersey is now one of the best habitats around. It’s the best environmental good news story in Europe without a doubt.”

Back in 2002, surveys concluded no more than 15 species lived in the River Mersey. Today, one can find otters, octopuses, salmon, seals, porpoises, eels, sharks, and even the very rare smelt inhabiting the waters of the Mersey. Billions of dollars have been spent over the years on improving the water quality of the river, and the rewards of this work are finally coming to the (river’s) surface.


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