Fish Rescue at Maxey Cut

08:36 Wednesday 28th March 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Hundreds of fish in Peterborough have been saved thanks to swift action from the Environment Agency. The group say the drought, which has been the worst in 100 years, is reducing river levels by 75%. Now our reporter Kerry Devine put the waders on and went to meet David Hawley from the Environment Agency on the Maxey Cut, just outside Peakirk. (TAPE)
DAVID HAWLEY: It’s important we take early action now, because the fish will be spawning in the next month or two, so if we can move them to another river, where they are going to be safe and spawn successfully, that’s got to be the right thing for the environment.
KERRY DEVINE: So what would have happened if you hadn’t have acted so quickly?
DAVID HAWLEY: Well, we’ve already taken many hundreds of fish out of the watercourse. And if we hadn’t taken them out, the fish would have died. Where we can see problems developing we get in early, and take action to prevent these sorts of environmental disasters occurring.
KERRY DEVINE: A lot of people living in a city, they have their water and stuff. They probably don’t really realise quite what an effect this is having.
DAVID HAWLEY: That’s a really important point. Because every drop of water that comes out of people’s taps actually comes from the environment. You’ve got an example of how the environment is being impacted by really low rainfall over the last year or so. And that’s why, if we can all save a little bit of water at home, that will actually help keep water in the environment, and maybe reduce the need for us to carry out these fish rescue operations in the future.
KERRY DEVINE: How important is it for this sort of thing to happen? Is it the proper operation that you’ve got going on here?
DAVID HAWLEY: Well the problem is the Maxey Cut’s drying up, as you can see. And in common with a lot of rivers in this area, we have to take steps to take fish out. Now there’s some good fish in here. Some eels as well, and some big chub.
DAVID HAWLEY: Chub, yes. There’s a chub in there as well. Andy, can you see if you can get him out.
KERRY DEVINE: I tell you what. People listening at home. That is a big fish. That’s like the size of a baby, a sort of long scaly baby..
DAVID HAWLEY: Yes. They do actually get a lot bigger than that. That’s probably about five or six pounds I guess. But they get to over twenty or thirty pounds. So they can get considerably bigger. What we’ve got is a boat with some electrodes mounted on it. Those electrodes pass a mild electric current through the water. And when the fish swim into that electric current, it temporarily stuns them. It’s then easy for us to net them out. We remove them from the water, but they recover ever so quickly, as you’ve seen.
KERRY DEVINE: Yes. They look very well.
DAVID HAWLEY: And they’re none the worse for their experience.
KERRY DEVINE: So how many fish have you got in here David?
DAVID HAWLEY: Well we think we’ve caught between 100 and 200 fish in just an hour or so this morning. We took out about 500 yesterday, and we’ll be taking out similar numbers over the next day or two. And later on today, they’ll go on a little journey to the River Welland.