Fish die as rivers dry

THOUSANDS of fish are dying throughout East Anglia as the top of some of the region's rivers dry up.Although the flow of most rivers is normal for this time of year, some of the streams that feed them are suffering badly as a result of lack of rainfall and increased water evaporation during the recent heatwave.

THOUSANDS of fish are dying throughout East Anglia as the top of some of the region's rivers dry up.

Although the flow of most rivers is normal for this time of year, some of the streams that feed them are suffering badly as a result of lack of rainfall and increased water evaporation during the recent heatwave.

Large numbers of fish are running out of oxygen – left stranded in shallow pools of water and falling easy prey to predators such as herons and mink.

The Environment Agency acted yesterday to save thousands of minnows caught in a pool of water in the upper reaches of the River Dove, near Eye.


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The river is usually in the form of a stream when it runs through the village of Wickham Skeith but - except for a pool under a road bridge – had dried up following weeks of local drought.

Nearby resident, Eric Martin, alerted the Environment Agency on Friday that many fish – including dace and sticklebacks - were in difficulty.

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"They are gasping for breath. It's cruel to leave them there like that," he said.

Mr Martin, who has an allotment close to the bridge, requested that a nearby bore hole should be used to pump emergency water into the stream but claims he was told by the agency that the cost would be too great.

This was denied yesterday by Chris McArthur, a senior official, who said the problem had been in getting an engineering team to the site over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr McArthur said a team was being sent to turn on the bore hole for a short while in order to flush the fish downstream to the main river.

"We are bringing forward a routine test of the bore hole," he said.

The Environment Agency had been monitoring levels in all the main rivers and had acted recently to cut weed and increase the flow in the River Deben, scene of a major fish tragedy a few years ago, Mr McArthur said.

"We are pro-active in drought management but we often cannot do anything about the fish stranded in the headwaters at this time of year," he added.

Star fishing columnist John Easdown said he was unaware of any local problems but fish did sometimes become stranded in drought situations.

"I have rescued lots of them myself in the past," he said.

Anyone noticing stranded fish should telephone the Environment Agency's emergency number, 0800 807060.

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