Sun, 19 Aug 2018
MORE than 500 fish had to be rescued by the Environment Agency after the recent heatwave caused water levels near Hungerford to plummet.
The fish rescued from the site – known as Harvey’s Stream at Eddington Bridge – included brown trout, grayling and brook lamprey.
As well as affecting water flow rates, the baking temperatures caused oxygen depletion in the water this month.
Fisheries officers from the Environment Agency mounted an operation to save the creatures, which were in danger of suffocating, using a mild electric current to stun them before scooping them up in nets.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency, Paul Jeffries, said: “Our fisheries officers rescued more than 500 fish from a side stream of the River Kennet near Hungerford, which were in distress because of low current flows caused by the dry weather.
“The fish were temporarily stunned to enable them to be safely lifted from the water with a net before being released into the main River Kennet.
“The rescue was carried out with the local river keeper.”
n Continued on page 5
He added: “Under normal conditions, fish are able to migrate in and out of the side stream.
“They will repopulate the stream when normal flows return.”
Last June a “catastrophic” sluice failure on the River Kennet at Hungerford prompted a similar, major fish rescue operation.
The sluices that failed are an historic structure linked to the former milling operations at Eddington.
Their function today is largely redundant as there is no longer an active mill.
However, the structure also fed water into a fishing lake and side stream which is supposed to flow into a Special Area of Conservation around the water meadows.
Reports of dramatic drops in the water level and dead stranded fish in the side stream prompted the Environment Agency to send an emergency team to Eddington Bridge.
On that occasion they were able to recover and move several hundred trout and grayling from the stream by A4 Hire.
The Environment Agency said water levels continue to be low and has asked anyone who sees fish in distress to call the incident hotline on 0800 807060.