Prompt Call Saves Fish

Officers from the Environment Agency managed to save hundreds of fish in distress at Moreton’s Leam Watercourse in Whittlesey.

They were able to respond quickly to the situation following phone calls from an Environment Agency lock keeper doing his routine flood work, and from a member of the public.

Environment Management Team Leader, Manfai Tang, from the Environment Agency said: ‘More than five hundred fish were killed due to lack of oxygen, however more deaths were prevented by our prompt response, which only happened due to a quick report made by a member of the public.’

Within half an hour of receiving the call, the Environment Agency Fisheries team was on its way to the site with oxygenating equipment to save the fish.

Environment Officers were the first on site and immediately carried out investigations to see if pollution was the cause of distress to the fish.  After a thorough investigation, the cause was put down to natural causes following low pressure during intense thunderstorms which removed oxygen from the water.

Environment Agency Fisheries Officers used oxygenating equipment to increase the oxygen levels, and follow up checks the next day found the oxygen levels had returned to normal.

It was estimated more than five hundred fish were killed, with Roach, Pike and Perch being some of the affected species.

Moreton’s Leam is located in the Nene Washes, in north Cambridgeshire, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is a habitat for the Spined Loach fish, although none were seen in the mortalities.

The incident happened on 8 September 2008, at Moreton’s Leam, Whittlesey.  

Anyone who sees dead fish, fish in distress, or pollution in our rivers and streams should call the Environment Agency emergency hotline number on 0800 80 70 60 as quickly as possible rather than leaving it to the end of the day, or worse the next day.  This will ensure a quick response in dealing with the incident.

Members of the public can also report pollution incidents on the same 24 hour emergency hotline.