The charity making life better by water

Hot weather and storms cause rise in fish deaths

We are carrying out emergency action to help suffering fish across the country.

Bream

A severe drop in oxygen

June's hot weather and heavy storms have caused an unprecedented number of incidents across our network. We've received reports at more than 60 locations across 21 different canals. This is compared to just six incidents reported in the whole of last year.

As the water temperature rises in the summer, the amount of oxygen in the water naturally reduces. Normally, for most fish species, this is not an issue - but the recent storms have significantly reduced oxygen levels further. This is further worsened by silt-laden surface water entering waterways as a result of the storms.

We have been committing all our available fisheries resources to work alongside the Environment Agency to install emergency aerators and pumps so that more oxygen reaches the water.

If you see fish in distress

Please get in contact with the Environment Agency on 0800 807 060, or Natural Resources Wales on 0300 065 3000, if you see fish in distress. Signs to look out for include fish gasping for air or floating on the surface, unable to dive.

John Ellis, our national fisheries and angling manager, said: “Canals are vital habitat for wildlife, with fish and other aquatic life forming a vital part of the canals' ecology. Whilst any instances of fish in distress is upsetting, seeing so many separate cases at the same time is unprecedented. We are doing all we can, as the nation's canal charity, to support the regulators in England and Wales.”

The water quality in our canals is better than at any time in history, with the flourishing flora and fauna proving why our waterways are such an important haven for nature.

All action, including by government, to improve water quality will benefit the ecological value of canals even further and is supported by ourselves.

Last Edited: 04 July 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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