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Great Western Canal to be re-stocked after catastrophic collapse

By marcprosser  |  Posted: December 16, 2012

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The Environment Agency is planning to re-stock part of the Great Western Canal, following fish losses caused by the spectacular bank collapse near Halberton.

Thousands of fish including pike, perch, bream, tench, roach and eels were washed out of the canal after a section of bank gave way following torrential rain in November.

Water gushed out of a the canal and flooded surrounding fields creating a temporary lake.

Sine then, a team of Environment Agency officers assisted by members of the Tiverton Angling Club have been in a race against time to catch and return fish to the canal.

So far more than 400 fish have been returned to the canal. However, the number returned only represents a fraction of the fish trapped in the lake. The fish caught in the temporary lake are vital to the canal's breeding stock. .

The Environment Agency said it is planning an initial re-stocking of roach, rudd, tench and bream early in 2013. This will be followed by an annual re-stocking of approximately 2,000 of each of these fish species.

"The decision to re-stock is important because it will speed up the recovery of the fish population," Nick Maye, for the Environment Agency, said.

The decision was welcomed by local angler and head bailiff for the Tiverton Angling Club, Ian Nadin:

"This is brilliant news. The Tiverton Canal is a fantastic fishery. Unfortunately the stretch where the breach occurred was one of the best on the canal and is very productive. It is impossible to judge how many fish have been lost. The Environment Agency has done an amazing job rescuing fish but we suspect any that are still trapped in the lake won't survive We welcome the decision to restock the canal. It is excellent news," he said.

The collapse of the canal bank occurred on November 21 during extreme weather when parts of Devon received a month's rain in just 48 hours. Devon County Council, which owns the Tiverton Canal, has installed two temporary dams to prevent further loss of water. The cost of repairing the canal could be as high as £5 million.

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