Angling clubs nationwide saw introductions of river fish cancelled last week after high water levels brought planned Environment Agency re-stockings grinding to a halt.
The news emerged after planned upper Trent stockings of 10,000 fish had to be called off when heavy rain caused levels to rise and flows were judged to be too powerful for juvenile, farm-reared fish to cope with.
Staff at the EA’s Calverton Fish Farm in Nottinghamshire are now juggling a huge backlog of fish that they have been unable to stock.
And with plenty more wind and rain forecast over the next fortnight, it’s looking like Calverton staff will have their work cut out when it comes to keeping up with their planned schedule.
“We’ve not spent two years rearing and growing on these important fish only to reduce their chances of survival by introducing them into flooded rivers,” explained Calverton’s Nick Eyre.
“We’ve set up some of these stocking dates up to three times, but have been forced to cancel them due to high water levels. We can’t beat the weather, it’s really frustrating. I’ve been concerned all summer that conditions were too dry and that we might end up with a year’s worth of rain falling when we were looking to carry out our intensive programme of stockings,” he added.
Re-stocking rivers all over the country with fish reared on one site is a logistical nightmare. The fisheries team stocks well over 1m coarse fish each winter using one custom-built vehicle and a limited numbers of specialist staff.
Calverton fish are primarily used to boost stocks on those rivers that have suffered significant mortalities as a result of pollution, most notably as a result of the recent disastrous cyanide spill on the upper Trent, although the fisheries department recently promised to top up barbel stocks in those rivers that have been heavily predated by otters.
Plans had been in place to introduce 50,000 coarse fish, including some specially grown-on two-year-old fish which should spawn next spring, into the pollution-hit upper Trent and Thame in the run-up to Christmas, part of a five-year re-stocking effort designed to replenish the fish stocks of these popular Midland waterways.
“It’s not only ourselves, anglers and fish that are being affected by these cancellations, we’ve had to send Radio Nottingham and various local papers away empty handed after they’d arranged to turn up to cover the stockings that we’ve had to cancel,” added Nick.