Barbel-boosting bonanza for the lovely Loddon
Environment Agency releases 300 blue-dyed barbel to boost population in Berkshire river. Anglers asked to monitor survival and growth rates
The Environment Agency has boosted the barbel population in the River Loddon this winter, as fisheries officers released more than 300 marked juvenile barbel into the Whistley Mill, on the Reading and District Angling Association section near Twyford.
This barbel-stocking marks the second phase of a two-year project between the Environment Agency and the Loddon Fisheries and Conservation Consultative (LFCC). The scheme’s aim is to improve the barbel population, investigate their growth rates and track the movements of barbel within the river Loddon at Swallowfield.
Anglers are asked to please report any captures of marked barbel to help the Environment Agency gather important information on their survival, growth rates and how far the fish are moving up and downstream. Photos should be taken on both sides of the fish and a record of the length and weight if possible. This information should then be sent to “Report a Barbel” (lfcc.org.uk).
Collecting this information will be an indicator of the stocking success compared with the natural recruitment within the river, and will hopefully help stocks of barbel in the River Loddon continue. The Environment Agency and LFCC are actively supporting these introductions to assist with healthy barbel numbers in the medium term and it is hoped that this will happen naturally over the next few years.
Environment Agency fisheries team leader for Berkshire Peter Gray said:
“We’ve responded to concerns of anglers about declining fish stocks, including barbel, and this project will hopefully give us some good data to monitor barbel populations.
“The work will also help anglers increase their knowledge of fish populations in the river, growth-rate and just how far up and downstream the barbel migrate.”
All 300 barbel released have a blue dye mark between the pectoral fins. The process of marking is not harmful to the fish, and is carried out so that individual batches of fish can be identified in the future. This is the second batch of marked barbel which have been released into the River Loddon, 600 having been introduced in November 2021, 6 miles (10km), upstream at Arborfield. In addition, some of the larger existing Loddon barbel have been marked by the local angling club at Swallowfield. This has been a gradual process over the past few years as fish are captured by anglers, and it is hoped more information can be learned about these individual fish.
The Environment Agency has also been working with LFCC and local angling clubs on winter stocking fillers including barbel, roach, dace and chub. Several hundred of each species were released around the Arborfield area.
All fish delivered are 18 months old and have been bred at the Environment Agency’s Calverton Fish Farm near Nottingham, which has been the Environment Agency’s principal supply of coarse fish for 31 years.
All rod licence income is used to fund work to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries. You can buy your rod licence online.
The product used to mark the fish is alecian blue dye and has been used as a method in fish-marking projects all over the world. The marking process does not harm the barbel.
Every year, the Environment Agency stocks almost half a million fish of nine different species into England’s rivers.
To help crack down on fisheries crime, the Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal fishing and other offences by calling 0800 807060.
Fishing illegally can incur a fine of up to £2,500, and offenders can also have their fishing equipment seized.
The Environment Agency inspects rod licences throughout the South East, and works continually on cases of illegal fishing and other associated fisheries crime.
It’s easy to buy a rod fishing licence online. Get a rod fishing licence: https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences
Rod fishing licence income is vital to the work of the Environment Agency to maintain, improve and develop fisheries.
Revenue generated from rod fishing licence sales is reinvested to benefit angling, with work including tackling illegal fishing, protecting and restoring habitats for fish and improving facilities for anglers.
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