TECHNIQUES developed by the Avon Roach Project are now helping the Environment Agency replenish dwindling river fish stocks.

The EA’s Anglian Region are the first to tap into the expertise of the Hampshire-based group in their attempts to restock Norfolk’s River Wensum using the same techniques from the Hampshire Avon.

Created in 2004 by Trevor Harrop and Budgie, who were determined to do something to turn things around after decades of decline, the Avon Roach Project is now being used as a role model by projects on a number of other rivers and now the EA are tapping into their knowledge.

Trevor revealed venues from as far afield as Berkshire’s River Kennet, Bristol Avon, Great Ouse, the mighty Severn and the Taff in Wales have been using the methods they pioneered to boost fish stocks.

Artificial spawning stations are placed in the river, then the eggs are collected and grown on in holding tanks until they are strong enough to survive.

Best ever year

Trevor said: “We are proud to have started this work and proud that so many other organisation are now benefiting from it. We have stocked roach into every stretch of the Hampshire Avon including the famous Royalty Fishery.

“Last year was the best ever with around 10,000 three year old roach going into the river at a stage when they themselves are ready to spawn. There was another healthy stocking recently and next season’s batch are growing well in our fish stews.

“Roach fishing on the Avon is steadily improving and we heard of a catch last season of 15 quality fish. Each year as part of our fundraising we have a fishing match along the entire length of the river and this year it was won for the very first time by a roach catch.

“The Environment Agency has always supported our work from the early days by funding the making of the spawning boards and during the actual stocking by provision of equipment like tanks and pumps. It is great to see them taking advantage elsewhere in the country of all that we have learned.

“In particular we have made a video for You Tube which takes you step by step through the process of making the spawning boards which are vital for the success of roach re-stocking programmes,” he concluded.

The River Wensum Working Group comprises clubs, anglers and landowners along the Wensum Valley.

EA fisheries officer Tom Howard said: “This fantastic project has been made possible by rod licence money and the enthusiasm of volunteers. This is something easy and simple to do to give the roach plenty of places to spawn. It is early days in the project but we hope it will improve the areas for roach spawning.”

The technique has also been adapted for a similar scheme to create artificial weed beds to assist bream to spawn on an EA project on the Norfolk Broads.

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