The continuing drought in parts of England has led to the removal of fish by the Environment Agency (EA).
The EA took the pre-emptive action on the 9km long Maxi Cut located in Lincolnshire between Peterborough and Market Deeping, before the water levels dropped to critical levels.
Ironically the cut was created as a flood defence for the River Welland, but record low rainfall in the area has meant that dropping levels have left the fish within at risk, so the decision was made to remove them and return them to the main river channel. Water that usually flows through the cut will also be redirected back into the Welland to help maintain levels there.
David Hawley, Northern Area Drought Manager, said: "The Maxey Cut is already showing signs of environmental stress as a result of the drought. Taking early action in a controlled manner is better for the fish as they will be spawning in April and May. Once the weather starts to warm up and weed growth increases, dissolved oxygen levels are likely to drop putting them under more stress. Early action also reduces the risk of disturbing breeding birds and will help to increase water levels within the River Welland itself."
The fish are being painstakingly removed by a team of EA staff using electro-fishing techniques in an operation that is expected to take two weeks to complete.
With other areas of the country also reporting record low rainfall and river levels it seems increasingly likely that without major rainfall in the coming months that this will not be the last such operation for EA staff this year.
Mr Hawley continued: "Without significant rainfall, the situation will deteriorate further as we move into spring and summer. Our role is to balance the needs of the environment and people. That is why it is vital that people do what they can to save water now. By using less water, we can reduce the effects of the drought on the environment."
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