River restoration continues as thousands of fish are released

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Several rivers in the north of England will be home to thousands more fish than a week ago, thanks to the Environment Agency (EA).

Fisheries experts from the EA have released 6,000 barbel and 8,000 dace into the Clow Beck and the River Skerne in Darlington and the River Wear in Durham while at the same time dace will also be stocked in the River Gaunless in an effort to help restore and bolster natural populations of fish.

All these rivers have previously suffered from habitat degradation and poor water quality but the efforts of the EA have helped return them to a healthy condition with the Clow Beck, that flows into the River Tees near Darlington, recently having two fish passes constructed as well as 2km of habitat improvement for barbel and dace with the help of the Tees Rivers Trust.

Environment Agency fisheries officer Paul Frear, who will be helping to introduce the fish to their new homes said, "We are pleased that we can provide these fish for stocking...Restoration and the creation of new fisheries for all people to enjoy, is a very important aspect to our work."

At the same time 500 barbel are being released into the River Don, at Blackburn Meadows in Sheffield and a another 500 into the river at Kilnhurst as part of an ongoing restocking programme to boost recovering populations in rivers where water quality is improving.

Fisheries officer Peter Mischenko said, "The fish we're stocking later this week will be the last we put into the River Don. We started the stocking programme around 10 years ago to help the river recover from its industrial heritage which had a massive impact on fish stocks. Our fish surveys tell us that stocks are now at a sustainable level, with the population breeding well, so there is no need for us to continue to supplement it with additional fish."

All the fish released are bred at the Environment Agency's fish farm at Calverton, in Nottinghamshire, where between 350,000 and 500,000 fish are produced annually to stock rivers across the country.

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