Work continues to restock River Witham after 'devastating' pollution incident last year

The fish being released by the Environment Agency
The fish being released by the Environment Agency

Thousands of fish have been released into the River Witham this week as part of continuing work to repair damage caused by a catastrophic pollution incident last year.

The Environment Agency released 34,000 roach and bream into the river as its work to restock the Witham continues.

It brings the total fish restocked into the river since the incident last March to around 74,000. Approximately 1.5 million larvae have also been introduced.

The year-old roach and bream, measuring 5–10cm in length, were bred at the EA’s national coarse fish farm before being transported and released into the river by fisheries officers.

The agency says the restocking is part of ongoing efforts to help restore the river to its natural state following what it says is thought to be one of the worst pollution incidents ever recorded in Lincolnshire.

Ammonia badly affected the river and its ecosystems from Bardney to the Wash as a result of the pollution.

Darren Randall, fisheries officer at the Environment Agency, said: “A river can take years or even decades to recover from such a serious pollution incident – but we’re doing everything we can to help return it to its former glory as soon as possible.

“Reintroducing these fish will help restore the complex ecosystems and the natural balance of this precious river, although it will be a long process.”

In December, the Environment Agency issued agricultural and fertiliser company Omex Agriculture Limited with a ‘notice of liability’ under the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2015.

The notice – only the second the EA has issued since the regulations came into place – requires the company to develop plans for repairing the environmental damage caused when ammonia entered the river in March 2018, killing more than 100,000 fish.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the pollution. Further action will be considered once the investigation is complete.

Anyone who suspects a pollution incident is urged to report it to the EA’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.