Anglers' anger following fish deaths in River Avon - The Leamington Observer

Anglers' anger following fish deaths in River Avon

Philippa Mingins 16th Jun, 2023 Updated: 16th Jun, 2023   0

ANGLERS are convinced pollution was responsible for the death of hundreds of fish in the River Avon – and not the hot weather as the Environment Agency has claimed.

A member of Barford Angling Association got in touch with the Observer to say there had been a rapid rise in water levels on a stretch of river between Stratford and Wasperton following the recent thunderstorms.

Shortly after, hundreds of dead fish were found floating in the stretch of river between the Saxon Mill in Stratford and Wasperton.

Concerned anglers called the Environment Agency, but say it was tree days before officers arrived to test the water for ammonia – associated with a raw sewage release – but found no trace.

The EA concluded the cause of the mass deaths resulted from “low oxygen levels due to weather and climate” following the recent heatwave.

But angler Craig Harrison remains convinced raw sewage was to blame, adding he had seen a ”massive build up of foam” below Barford weir, which had gone by the time EA officers arrived.

He told The Observer: “To arrive three days after the event is at best poor management and at worst total negligence. Any traces of pollutant will be miles downstream and effecting other stretches of the river. Barford perhaps.

“This is not a natural event. We do not see this foam at any other time of year other than in winter floods when raw or partially treated sewage is released from the outflow of Warwick sewage works just half a mile above our fishery.

“This foam is not a result of ‘low oxygen levels due to weather and climate’.

“Worst case scenario is a potential total wipe out of fish stocks in the Avon around Warwick. Best case is a significant fish kill with a recovery in five to ten years. We have lost fish from yearlings to mature Chub and Barbel. This is a total environmental disaster and the loss of one of the most beautiful and truly incredible river fisheries in the UK.

“I do not believe for a moment that this event is a simple quirk of nature and climate. A pollutant entered the river at some point in the Saxon Mill area and had a devastating effect through the water course to Wasperton.”

An EA spokesperson told the Observer that water naturally carried less oxygen during prolonged warm, dry weather, while intense summer rainstorms could wash material into watercourses which can build up in roads and gullies.

“Once in a watercourse, this material will further deplete the water of oxygen and can lead to serious fish mortalities”, the spokesperson added.


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