A problem with the fish

Published: Thursday, 03 October 2019

THE problem with the Wey & Arun Canal was that a half mile for repair had to be drained and there were fish.

Wey & Arun Canal Trust called on a local specialist environmental consultancy to ensure the thousands of fish in the section came to no harm.

An Aquamaintain team used a process called electro-fishing to catch the fish in the canal at Drungewick in a two days operation at the end of September.

CatchingFishElectric current

This humane and Environment Agency-approved method involves passing an electric current through the water, from a generator onboard a small boat.

The field of electricity causes the fish to swim towards the positive charge and become momentarily stunned, allowing the fish catchers in the water to net them and transfer them within seconds into fresh water containers onboard the nearby boat.

No lasting harm

From there they are moved to a tank of oxygenated water on the towpath, where they can then be discharged into another part of the canal. The process results in no lasting harm to the fish, which return to their natural state within minutes.

StretchDrainedAquamaintain fisheries consultant Dave Hellard told the process was the most humane way possible to move the fish:

“The fish recover quickly, and once in the oxygenated water tanks quickly become pretty lively again.  The team in the water carefully monitor the voltage and go back and forward over the area to be sure that as many of the fish as possible are caught.”

The process allows the experts to assess the health of the fish living in the canal, as well as look at the size of fish and species that thrive there. The team gave the Wey & Arun Canal fish a clean bill of health, with pike, eels, bream, roach and carp among the fish caught.

The trust has had to drain the short section of the Drungewick stretch of canal to allow leaks to be repaired.