River Severn Fish Rescue
The Environment Agency return some 1,200lb of fish to the River Severn at Upton in a major fish rescue operation.
The Environment Agency have reported that around 230 large fish, amassing a combined weight of over half a ton, have been safely returned to the River Severn since a rescue operation started on Tuesday 8 May.
As flood waters receded, hundreds of fish, including large bream and carp became stranded on both Upper and Lower Ham and on several fields adjoining the River Severn at Upton-on-Severn. Up to 1,000 fish became trapped in pools, ditches and behind mesh fences, leaving them at risk of dying unless they were moved quickly.
On Tuesday 8 May, the Environment Agency removed 125 stranded fish that where in shallow water and returned them to the river. About 80-100 bream weighing up to 7lb and 20-30 carp, weighing about 5-15lb each were among the fish rescued. By the end of the day, there were still hundreds of fish left, but they were in deeper water and not in immediate danger.
It was hoped that the remaining fish would be able to return to the river naturally, through the use of ditches and streams on the Ham, once fisheries officers cleared the route. Unfortunately, by Wednesday morning, a shallow part of the ditch, preventing some fish moving back to the river was identified. The Environment Agency went back to the site to use nets and electric fishing equipment to move the remaining stranded fish to the River. About 100 fish of which the majority were bream, with around 35 carp including individual specimens weighing up to 28lb each and two pike, were among the fish rescued on Wednesday, with a further large carp and 8 bream rescued on Thursday.
Al Watson from the Environment Agency said:
“We are grateful for the help and cooperation of local people and members of the Upton-on-Severn Angling Club. By telling us about the stranded fish at an early stage, we were able to take quick action and get a lot of fish that were in immediate danger, back into the river before they came to any harm.”
"Many people have asked why these large fish migrated onto the flood meadow. We noticed that many of the fish were heavy with spawn and in the process of spawning in the shallow water. Fish being caught out-of-bank is something that happens when we get floods in the spring.”
Upton on Severn Angling Club secretary, Colin Harvey, was the first to alert the Environment Agency to the problem on the evening of 7 May. He said:
"These are top quality mature fish that are important to the town's fishery as their young are the fish for the future. There's no doubt that many of them would have perished had it not been for prompt action by the Environment Agency and I want to thank their officers for a thoroughly professional job."
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