AN ENVIRONMENTAL charity has installed giant artificial reedbeds to revive fish stocks in a water badly hit by cormorant predation.

The 143-metre length of floating reedbeds is a joint project between leading waterways charity Thames21, the Environment Agency and River Lea AC, and it will provide a much-needed refuge and site for fish to spawn on the Lea Navigation Canal at Enfield Lock.

Project manager Ben Fenton explained: “EA research has shown fish numbers, particularly roach have steadily declined over the last seven years, and this will help to redress the situation.modern advances have made the new ones almost indestructable.

“It took 20 volunteers two days to install them all plus an extra day anchoring work from myself and a colleague, and the total cost of build and installation would be in the region of £50,000.

“The beds, which come in 14 ten-metre sections, are securely attached to the riverbed by wires but there is flexibility to allow them to rise and fall with the water level as the area is actually close to a lock.

Boosts to stocks

“With the help of the EA we also stocked 1,000 one-year-old roach to give an immediate boost to stocks,” revealed Ben.

“Underneath some of the beds we have installed mesh netting along the lines of the spawning boards developed by the Avon Roach Project to help the fish to breed.

“We have just found out we have secured more funding from the EA for an extension of the project, and we aim to install a further 100 metres of beds slightly further upstream within the next six months.

“Overall this is all part of the Thames21’s Love the Lea project designed to improve the water quality in the Lea catchment area,” he added.

Richard McGarry, Lea AC chairman, said: “We’re confident these reedbeds will help protect immature roach, bream and perch in the area from cormorant predation and that means there’ll be better fishing in the long-term.

“The water at the site is very clear, and cormorants have great eyesight. The fish there don’t have much of chance to hide from the cormorants, which can happily eat a 1 lb 8 oz of fish per day.”

Thames21 will train local people and members of the Lea AC to maintain the reedbeds so it remains a thriving habitat.

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