Refuge created for flood-risk fish

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Fisheries staff, landowners and anglers have come together to create a man-made refuge for fish to shelter from seasonal floods on the River Wear at Houghall, County Durham.

Heavy rainfall causes many fish, particularly young ones, to be swept downstream where they find it harder to survive, leading to a general decline in fish stocks along the river and a knock-on effect on other wildlife associated with the fish population.

The scheme involves the creation of a channel of open water linked to the main river in which fish can take refuge from any deluge.

In summer months it is hoped the sheltered conditions will be an ideal nursery for fish fry, helping to increase the river's fish stocks of dace, chub, roach and barbel in a more sustainable way without the need for artificial re-stocking.

Environment Agency fisheries officer Paul Frear said: "More fish in the Wear river system will help to attract more wildlife to the river banks, which in turn helps to make the area more attractive to local communities, anglers and tourists. This is a simple solution, which will help to bring benefits to both people and wildlife."