Hundreds of fish rescued and re-homed as charity prepares for major dredging work on historic Bath waterway

Specialist contractors working with us will net and re-home hundreds of fish in preparation for the dredging of the six locks in the Bath Flight between Darlington Wharf and Bath Bottom Lock

Rescue workers catching fish Fish rescue in Bath

Major dredging project

Later this week we will begin a major dredging project to make it easier for boats to move through the flight which includes the second deepest lock in the country.

Dredging can bring down the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water – which could impact on the hundreds of fish that live in the canal. So, the Trust’s first task is to safeguard species including bream, dace, roach and pike in a ‘fish rescue’ that moves them to a safe location further along the canal. 

The rescue

The ‘rescue’ involves a specialist team putting a low-level electric pulse through the water which temporarily stuns the fish. The fish are then carefully netted and moved to another part of the canal, well away from the dredging. 

We will also be keeping a close watch on other wildlife in the area including daily checks to ensure the dredging activity doesn’t disturb any nesting birds along the canal.

Making it easier for boaters

Mark Evans, our director for Wales & South West explains: “Bath Flight takes boats through the centre of this World Heritage Site and includes the country’s second deepest lock. It is one of the busiest sections of the Kennet & Avon Canal, with up to 3,000 boats passing through it each year. Our dredging work will make it easier for boats to move through the locks.

“In addition to keeping the canal open and available for people to use and enjoy, the wildlife that lives in and around the canal is front and centre of this important project. From the fish rescue and bird surveys to the reuse of the 3,000m3 of nutrient-rich dredged sediment onto local farmers’ fields. The safety of our colleagues also remains a priority, with this project specifically designed to be safely carried out within the Government’s coronavirus guidance.

“While we’re currently advising against unnecessary boat movements we are looking ahead, and preparing for a time when the waterways will be fully open, once again offering visitors on water and land a unique perspective on this very special and much loved historic city.”

The dredging work, which stretches along just under a mile of canal, began on 21 May and will last approximately eight weeks.