Barges banned on canal over concerns about rising fish deaths

Rising levels of dead fish found in the Aire and Calder Navigation at Knottingley has led to temporary ban on commercial barges.

By Nick Frame
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 3:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 3:38 pm
Commercial barges are banned until an investigation is complete.
Commercial barges are banned until an investigation is complete.

The Canal & River Trust has agreed to suspend operations and conduct further investigations into the harm being caused to wildlife after concerns were raised the Angling Trust and local fishermen.

Whilst commercial barges have been limited to slower speeds and reduced loads in the past few weeks, the impact to fish has continued.

Following the first passage of freight traffic after the Christmas break on January 11, the Canal & River Trust estimated it sighted around 100 fish deaths.

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Jamie Cook, CEO of the Angling Trust said: “We welcome this confirmation from the Canal & River Trust that it is the barge that is responsible for the fish deaths.

"Local anglers and the Angling Trust have been saying so for over a year, and we were right.

"The suspension of operations is welcome news, but what matters now is that all the stops are pulled out to ensure this is resolved.

"The barge should not be allowed to continue commercial operations until it is guaranteed this massacre of fish has stopped.”

Sean McGinley, Canal & River Trust Director for Yorkshire & North East said: “It is a priority to complete our investigation to establish why, on this short stretch of the navigation, fish are being harmed in this way.”

Richard Parry, CEO of the Canal & River Trust added: “We appreciate the frustrations of pausing freight operations, but we must remain mindful of the environmental impact this is having. To allow it simply to continue to operate as normal, knowing that it is likely to cause numerous fish deaths, would be wrong.”

Colin Finney, from Aire Tackle Angling Supplies said: “This is fantastic news for the whole of the environment.

"Without the intervention from the main clubs and the support of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal the voices of local anglers would not have been heard.

"They have now and justice has been seen to finally be carried out. Well done all involved.”

The Angling Trust continues to receive reports of other fish kills on the Aire and Calder system and will be meeting with the Canal & River Trust to discuss their plans for further investigation and mitigation.