EA kick-start recovery of the River Witham following major pollution incident

Some of the larvae at the EA's fish farm at Calverton, Nottinghamshire, before release. EMN-180525-113107001
Some of the larvae at the EA's fish farm at Calverton, Nottinghamshire, before release. EMN-180525-113107001

The Environment Agency (EA) has released thousands of roach and bream larvae into the River Witham today (Friday, May 25) to kick-start the recovery progress following the major pollution incident earlier this year.

The release of the larvae forms an important first step on the road to recovery, which can take months and or even several years for the river’s complex ecosystem to get back to full health.

In March, EA investigators say they found high levels of ammonia in the River Witham where an estimated 100,000 of fish died after the pollution incident.

The EA has been working hard to bring those responsible to justice, as well as ensuring that the river recovers as quickly as possible.

Dedicated staff at the EA are taking regular samples of the water quality in the River Witham as the river recovery progress continues.

Environment manager Simon Mitchell said: “The release of thousands of larvae into the River Witham marks an important step on the road to the river’s recovery.

“According to our latest estimates, the pollution incident in March caused the death of no fewer than 100,000 fish – although the exact figure is likely to be higher.

“As a river is a complex ecosystem with different species recovering at different rates, the full recovery process may take numerous months up to several years.

“We take pollution incidents like this extremely seriously and will always seek to prosecute those who negligently damage our precious environment and wildlife.

“We have staff continuing to work on this pollution incident full-time, as the river progresses through the recovery phase.”

• The fish larvae have come from the EA’s national fish farm in Calverton, which produces around 450,000 fish of nine species each year for restocking.