Press release

Quarter of a million fish rescued in Norfolk Broads

Two days of intensive fish netting has saved the lives of nearly a quarter of a million fish at Hickling in the Norfolk Broads.

Netting the fish

Netting the fish

Environment Agency fisheries teams worked round the clock to rescue and relocate approximately 230,000 fish thought to be fleeing from the toxic effects of a Prymnesium alagal bloom.

The fish shoaled in a shallow ‘haven’ away from the effects of the spreading bloom but were in danger of seriously depleting the dissolved oxygen levels and needed to be relocated quickly.

Helped by volunteers from the Whispering Reeds boatyard - where the fish had gathered - and a local angling rep, Environment Agency teams moved the fish in tanks to the relative safety of the boatyard at Potter Heigham from where they could then swim freely into the rivers.

Fleeing from toxic Prymnesium

Stephen Lane, fisheries technical specialist at the Environment Agency, said:

Thanks to everyone who helped. It was a very effective operation.

We are especially grateful to the Whispering Reeds boatyard and Herberts Wood boatyard at Potter Heigham for enabling access to the site, and John Currie, an angling volunteer, for his assistance.

It was thanks to people who phoned us with their concerns that we were able to save nearly a quarter of a million fish.

This is a great example of where rod licence money has been spent on improving fisheries.

We would like to remind the angling community if they see any fish in distress or dead fish, to call our hotline on 0800 807060.

Scientists from the John Innes Centre were out taking water samples and collecting samples of dead fish - 350 to 400 fish died in the incident – to help with their research into why Prymenesium releases toxins in certain environmental conditions. The situation is continuing to be monitored.

The last similar occurrence in Hickling Broad was in 2012 when 35,000 fish were rescued and relocated.

An annual rod licence, available now for the 2015/16 season, remains at 2010 prices, costing £27 for non-migratory trout and coarse fish or £72 for salmon and migratory trout. Concessionary licences, which cost £5, are available to junior anglers (aged 12-16). Anglers under 12 do not require a licence.

Anglers over 65 and anyone with a Blue Badge parking concession or in receipt of Disability Living Allowance also pay the concessionary adult rate of £18 (non-migratory trout, coarse fish and eels) and £48 (salmon and migratory trout).

One to eight-day licences for occasional anglers are also available for £3.75 and £10 (non-migratory trout, coarse fish and eels) or £8 and £23 (salmon and migratory trout).

Licences can be bought using a credit or debit card by calling the telesales line on 0344 800 5386.

Alternatively, they can be obtained from any Post Office or online at GOV.UK

Published 19 March 2015