May 8, 2019 1.33 pm This story is over 58 months old

34k fish released into River Witham after pollution incident

Criminal investigations are ongoing

Another 34,000 fish were recently released into the River Witham after what is believed to be the worst river pollution ever recorded in Lincolnshire. At least 100,000 fish were killed.

The environmental damage was caused when Ammonia entered the River Witham near Woodhall Spa in March 2018. It affected the river and its ecosystems from Bardney to the Wash.

The EA estimated at least 100,000 fish were killed. Photo: @KingsdykeMark Twitter

A total of 74,000 fish, along with around 1.5 million larvae, have now been restocked into the river as part of the ongoing efforts to help the river recover. The roach and bream fish, measuring 5-10cm, were bred at the Environment Agency’s national coarse fish farm.

Releasing high numbers of fish increases the chances that their populations will re-establish, as some will die naturally or be eaten by predators.

It is part of the ongoing efforts to help the river recover. Photo: Environment Agency

As previously reported, the company responsible for the pollution in the River Witham was identified by the Environment Agency as Omex Agriculture Limited.

A ‘notice of liability’ was served on the company based in Tupholme in December 2018. It is only the second notice the Environment Agency has issued since the Environmental Damage (Prevention and Remediation) Regulations 2015 came into place.

Omex Agriculture was given the chance to lodge an appeal or to submit proposals for repairing the environmental damage.

Proposals were submitted which are currently being reviewed by the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency are still liaising with the company and criminal investigations into the pollution are also ongoing.

The year-old roach and bream were transported and released into the river by fisheries officers. Photo: Environment Agency

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Our priority is helping the River Witham recover to its natural, healthy state as soon as possible. The company Omex have submitted a proposal, which we are currently reviewing to make sure it represents the best results for the environment.

“Meanwhile our criminal investigations into the pollution continue, and we’ll make a decision on further enforcement actions once they’re complete.”

Fisheries Officer at the Environment Agency Darren Randall 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.”