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Fish stocks boosted on the Evenlode

The Environment Agency has joined forces with landowners Blenheim Estate and Cornbury Park Estate to complete a series of habitat enhancements on the River Evenlode in Oxfordshire (from an Environment Agency press release).

The two-week project has seen the creation of two new backwaters and the enhancement of a number of locally important spawning sites. The work has been carried out to boost local fish stocks on several sections of the middle Evenlode at Ascott-Under-Wychwood, Charlbury and Long Hanborough.

Backwaters have been created at Charlbury and Long Hanborough and used to be common features on many of the region?s lowland rivers but have been lost due to historical dredging. These habitats provide juvenile fish with nursery areas and refuges from high winter flows.

Creating these vital features will hopefully help juvenile fish to survive and contribute towards the adult populations on this section of the River Evenlode. The backwater will also provide important habitat for many other types of aquatic fauna and flora, such as waterfowl, macroinvertebrates and a number of different types of plants.

A number of important spawning sites, commonly known as riffles, have also been enhanced by adding clean gravel to the riverbed. The new clean gravel will create shallow, fast flowing areas that remain silt free, encouraging a number of flow-loving fish species to lay their eggs in the gravel beds. Emerging fry will then shelter for several weeks in the gaps found among the stones. Riffle environments are also essential for species including dace, chub, gudgeon, barbel, minnows and bullheads.

Tom Sherwood, an Environment Agency Fisheries Officer, said: ?Fish populations in some of the middle reaches of the Evenlode have declined over recent years. It is not entirely apparent why this has happened, however a combination of pressures such as the influence of signal crayfish, poor habitat in some of the reaches and also possible cormorant predation may have been the cause. It is hoped the recent enhancements will help local fish stocks throughout the middle Evenlode.?

Richard Fairhurst · Thu 3 Mar 2011, 12:29 · Link

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