Environment Agency rescues coarse fish in the Fens by pumping oxygen into the Delph

The River Delph at Welney. Picture: Ian Burt

The River Delph at Welney. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Routine monitoring showed falling oxygen levels in the shallow man-made river, which stretches for 20 miles across the Cambridgeshire - Norfolk border to join the Ouse near Downham Market.

Fish kills have been frequent along the Delph and neighbouring Old Bedford, particularly when heavy rain showers “turn” the water, releasing toxins from the silt.

Fisheries officer Kye Jerrom said: “This is a known problem which we monitor and respond to annually. So far we’ve avoided a major fish kill but we need to stay on top of the situation.

“We’re monitoring water quality along the entire length of the River Delph and are checking our aeration equipment daily.

“We’re asking the public to be vigilant. If you spot fish in distress or see people acting suspiciously near our equipment please call the Environment Agency incident hotline number 0800 80 70 60 with a clear description of what you witnessed and the location so that officers can investigate. Fish can often be saved if they are helped quickly.”

The tell tale signs of fish in distress are fish gasping at the surface of the water or swimming on their sides or upside down.

Different species can tolerate different levels of dissolved oxygen. While trout need the highest water quality, they are not found in the drains, where species like pike, perch and roach are usually the first to suffer.

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