Suffocated to death: up to 1,000 fish perish in drain

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HUNDREDS of fish suffocated to death after a sudden change in weather conditions drastically reduced oxygen levels in a South Holland drain.

Members of the public reported seeing dead fish in Vernatt’s Drain (pictured). There was also a very strong smell of salt.

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Environment Agency officers attended a stretch of the drain, from Pode Hole downstream to Spalding near Wygate Park and Pinchbeck Road.

Tests were carried out on the drain and it is believed between 500 and 1,000 fish – mainly roach – died early last week as a result of naturally-occurring low oxygen levels in the water.

Environment officer Adam Shamma said Welland and Deepings Internal Drainage Board had gradually pumped fresh water through the drain from another part of their system to dilute the de-oxygenated water and improve oxygen levels.

All fish are susceptible to low oxygen levels and poor environmental conditions, however, some are more vulnerable than others.

Mr Shamma added: “We urge anyone who sees fish in a distressed state – for example gasping at the water surface, or trapped in shallow water pools – to contact us. This will enable us to act quickly to minimise the impact on the river’s fish population.”

Information about distressed fish or water pollution incidents should be reported to the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.