Record year for UK fish stockings

A record-breaking winter has seen almost two million fish stocked nationwide by the Environment Agency.
Hundreds of rivers and stillwaters have benefited following an improvement in breeding techniques at the EA’s Calverton fish farm in Nottinghamshire, and more fish left the rod licence-funded facility than ever before.
The figures were published in the EA’s annual report which also revealed how more than £21m in rod licence sales has been ploughed back into fishery improvements, operations to tackle illegal angling and more.
The stockings, which saw nearly half-a-million juvenile chub, dace, barbel and crucians leave the unit along with 1.3m fish larvae, will not only improve sport, but also help to secure the future of some of the sport’s most popular and cherished waters.
Alan Henshaw, team leader at Calverton, explained why 2015 was so good for rearing fish: “Many of our industrialised rivers have improved dramatically in water quality in the last 30 years and concerted restocking from Calverton has accelerated the restoration of natural fish stocks and viable fisheries,” he said.
“Last year was no exception, and while it wasn’t a good summer for getting a tan it was perfect for growing fish. Growth and production rates of fish over 18 months on the farm have been the highest recorded at Calverton.”
Along with numerous park lakes, dozens of rivers including the Yorkshire Derwent, the Nene in Cambridgeshire and the Brue in Somerset, have benefited from the EA’s work in 2015.
Angling Times columnist Dave Harrell is just one of many to welcome the news: “Most of our rivers in the UK are as good now as they have ever been, and that’s thanks to restocking programmes like these,” he said.
“It’s great to see the continued investment in our waterways, and competitions like RiverFest are a testament to all the positive work which is being done. I just wish more people would fish running water to enjoy it.” 
According to the report recently published by the EA, 1.2m rod licences were purchased by UK anglers last year, helping to fund a raft of fishery improvements including 324 projects such as fish pass construction and fish habitat improvement work.
EA staff also rescued 800,000 fish in 2015 and enforcement officers worked around the clock to tackle illegal angling and poaching by carrying out patrols and checking nearly 70,000 licences, resulting in more than 2,000 prosecutions.
Nonetheless, EA head of fisheries Sarah Chare believes there is still more to be done: “We must continue to improve water quality and habitats to benefit all fish populations in our rivers and enable them to thrive,” she said.
“Our stillwater coarse fisheries need to be well managed so that they are resilient to extremes of weather. We must also work together to reverse the declining numbers of anglers and falling licence sales – without rod licence income we will be able to deliver very little.”