Hello from everyone at the Environment Agency,
We are delighted to update you on some of the work that our teams have been doing over the past month.
Our officers in Manchester made an exciting start, identifying two non-native Wels Catfish species weighing in at 25Ib and 19Ib. Meanwhile, our officers in East Anglia have been welcoming back eels, and our officers in Bedfordshire have been investigating the deaths of several carp.
Our officers in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire have been busy responding to an algal bloom incident; receiving incident response training with our new test kits; and receiving approval to support several Fisheries Improvement Programme (FIP) projects.
In enforcement news, an angler from Nottinghamshire has been fined £619 after he illegally removed a Chub from the river in September 2021; while officers across Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and Norfolk have been carrying out patrols for Operation Clampdown where they reported a number of people for fishing out of season.
Two four feet long non-native fish captured in tiny Manchester brook!
Environment Agency Fisheries officers in Greater Manchester responded to concerned calls from an observant member of the public who noticed two unusually long fish in a stream running through their local park in Stalybridge. Describing the fish as extremely long and obviously ‘out of place’ within the tiny waterway, officers quickly attended and identified the two fish as non-native Wels catfish, weighing in at 25lb and 19lbs!
Wels catfish are a large predatory fish species that have been known to consume other fish, frogs, rats and even fully grown waterfowl. Growing up to 8 feet long and over 140 pounds in the UK, they can be legally kept under permit in stillwater fisheries where there is no inlet or outlet streams and therefore where they cannot escape. However, in this case, these fish had been illegally stocked in an upstream lake and subsequently escaped downstream.
Wels can carry harmful diseases and parasites that have the potential to impact resident fish in waters where they are introduced. The Environment Agency is keen to prevent the spread of non-native and invasive species, especially in the case of Wels catfish which can thrive in warmer waters. The catfish were captured and removed from the waterway and later humanly euthanised.
We often get unusual fish reported to us, usually as a result of someone illegally disposing of unwanted pet fish into the nearest stream or river. Anyone noticing anything unusual is encouraged to report it to the Environment Agency on our 24-hour hotline 0800 807060
Response to Algal Bloom Incident
Our officers in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire have been responding to their first fisheries incident of the 2022-23 period – a significant algal bloom which has had a detrimental impact on still water at a specific site. There are over 200 dead carp, and the Category 1 incident is on-going.
The team have responded by providing equipment to mitigate early morning oxygen depletion, obtaining water samples, and collecting a sample of fish for examination at our Fish Lab at Brampton. So far, while the virology results have returned negative for a virus infection, the fish are struggling, and we expect additional fish mortality. The nature of the algal bloom has affected the ability of the fish to breathe normally and gill damage from spikey diatoms and armoured algal species is a difficult condition to deal with.
Aside from providing additional oxygen and removing dead fish, our staff are relying on changing weather and temperature conditions to improve the environmental conditions. Following the final mortality report we will of course provide additional management advice.
Team deal with fish kill in Bedfordshire
Environment Agency officers visited a lake in Bedfordshire where several carp had been lost, providing expert advice, taking algae samples, and collecting two carp for our National Fish Lab to investigate.
The results showed no signs of disease in the fish, and we suspect the event was a result of a diatom algal bloom. Specifically, a diatom called Synedra was found to be present in the algae sample, having the potential to kill fish as its spiky hard silica casing can irritate the gills of fish making it hard for the fish to respire.
Nottingham Angler Caught More Than He Bargained For
A Nottingham man’s fishing trip in the middle of the night on the River Trent in Colwick, Nottinghamshire in September 2021 has cost him £619 after he illegally removed fish from the river.
The angler’s case was brought to Nottingham Magistrates Court by the Environment Agency on Tuesday 5 April where 37-year-old Piotr Czyzak, of Leonard Street, Nottingham, was found guilty of removing the fish.
He was fined £440 and ordered to pay £135 Environment costs, as well as a victim surcharge of £44. The defendant was found by Environment Agency fisheries enforcement officers to be in possession of Chub that he had removed from the river on 4 September 2021.
Approval Received for Fisheries Improvement Programme Projects
We have now received approval to support several Fisheries Improvement Programme (FIP) projects for this financial year (2022-23). These are Wellingborough & District Nene AC, Princes Lake; Donnington Angling Club, The Brick Pits Donnington; Crowland Angling Club, The Breach Pits and Orton Water Peterborough.
In addition, pending final application, we have set aside some money for Nene Anglers and Peterborough & District AC for habitat restoration works for Gunwade Lake Ferry Meadows. These projects aim to improve angling access and support further improvement of fisheries habitats.
We are thrilled to be supporting these great projects, not least in some areas which we have not until now been able to support. A number of these clubs will be delivering some first class angling coaching sessions for juniors and families throughout the summer months.
Further updates on these projects will be provided later in the year. In total our FIP allocation this year has been £28,500 and is a fantastic way of supporting angling with Rod Licence income.
Eels are returning
Our officers in East Anglia have been out preparing to welcome back eels to the area after their long trip from the Sargasso Sea. Checks were carried out at locations across the region to ensure eel passes were ready and, before long, eels were spotted using the passes in Essex as they returned to the area.
Officers across Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and Norfolk have been carrying out patrols for Operation Clampdown
Enforcement officers, including Tom Baird and Nick Beardmore, have been out across the area ensuring that anglers stick to the closed season rules. Teams have been working closely with local police teams and volunteers from the Angling Trust. Officers have reported a number of people for fishing out of season.
Don’t forget to stay in touch
Don’t forget to stay in touch. You can stay up to date with the latest news and information from the Environment Agency on Twitter and Instagram at @envagency