Pilot project on River Nene increases fish numbers in the Fens

A SUCCESSFUL pilot project credited with increasing fish numbers on part of the River Nene will now become standard practice wherever possible in the Fens.

The Environment Agency opened the lock gate at the Dog in a Doublet Sluice, near Whittlesey, six times this year when tides were high enough to allow fish to enter the river.

An underwater acoustic camera was used to monitor the numbers and species of fish passing through the lock from the 20km freshwater stretch downstream of the tidal Nene,

Now it is planned to open the lock whenever the tide is high enough to allow more elvers, smelt, sea trout, bream and roach to pass through.

Chris Reeds, senior environment monitoring officer in the fisheries team, said: “Angling on the north bank of the Nene has improved this year, with an increase in the numbers of fish being caught. The angling clubs are putting it down to us opening the lock on high tides to let them swim through.

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“When the sluice is opened during high flows, fish are washed downstream and when the sluice closes, they are unable to pass back upstream so stay there.

“In addition to the benefits for fish and anglers, opening the lock when tide heights allow has increased the volume of water available for abstraction.

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“We are getting additional freshwater entering the river and increasing levels and that is good news for the people who rely on it for their livelihoods, including farmers. This has proved particularly beneficial at times this year given the ongoing drought.”

Suitable high tides for opening the tidal lock are next predicted from October 27-29.

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