Hundreds of fish will be rescued from the Rugby Arm of the Oxford Canal today ahead of important dredging work to improve the depth of the waterway for canal boats visiting Rugby.
The fish, likely to include roach, perch, carp and even pike, are being removed as oxygen levels in the canal are likely to drop when the three-week £110,000 dredging and bank protection project gets underway.
Paul Fox, dredging manager for the Canal & River Trust, explains: “With a popular hire boat base in Rugby and lots of visiting boats on the Oxford Canal, it’s really important that we undertake this important maintenance work to remove the silt that has built up over the years in this historic canal.
“But before we get the dredging underway, we’ll be minimising the impact on wildlife. In this instance the best thing to do for the fish is to move them downstream away from the dredging. As well as being a haven for people, the Oxford Canal is also great for wildlife, so I’m expecting to see several hundred fish.”
A specialist fish rescue team will pass an electric current through the water which temporarily stuns the fish causing them to float to the surface. They are then scooped up and put into holding tanks before being returned, unharmed, to another stretch of the Oxford Canal.
Paul continues: “Once the fish have been rescued, we’ll use a floating digger to scoop the silt out of the canal before it’s transferred to a work boat and then carefully disposed of or reused to help protect the canal bank from erosion.
“The Rugby Arm has stretches where the silt has built up making the canal shallow which causes problems for boats. By dredging the worst affected areas we should hopefully make boating easier. Boaters will hopefully notice a big difference.”