During the evening of Monday 9 July 2007, Environment Agency officers saved 10,000 young fish from certain death in receding flood waters on Worcester Racecourse.
Early that afternoon we had received a report of fish dying and distressed in shallow pools on the racecourse.
An Environment Manager went out straight away to assess the situation. The fish had been left stranded by receding floodwaters as river levels fell on the River Severn. Having ventured in search of food into the shallow floodwater that had recently covered the racecourse they had been unable to make it back to the river before water levels fell.
Hundreds of fish had already died, mostly large mature fish such as carp, bream, roach and chubb, many of which were around twenty years old. But thousands of small fry were still alive and we decided to attempt a rescue.
Teams of staff were drafted in from as far afield as Tewkesbury and Shrewsbury to help. About a dozen people attended altogether from our Fisheries and Ecology teams as well as Environmental Crime officers, members of our Operations Delivery Team and the Environment Manager himself. They were assisted by representatives of a local angling association.
They worked from 5pm until nearly 10pm, returning the rescued fish to the river. The fish saved included young chubb, roach, bream, dace, bleak, eels, tench, and carp.
Environment Manager, David Throup, said “It was a very distressing sight and we couldn’t leave them there to die. The response from our officers was fantastic and we were able to save about ten thousand young fish altogether. But we could have saved more if this had been reported to us earlier. Anyone who sees river fish who are obviously in distress in situations like this should call us straight away on our free 24-hour Incident Hotline 0800 807060. We will do what we can to offer advice and, if possible, practical assistance.”
Rescue operations such as this are funded from money raised from the sale of rod licences. This money, provided by anglers, is used to help our work in managing fisheries and to improve angling for everyone.