Fish rescued as stretch of Kennet & Avon canal in Wiltshire drained for repairs

  • ITV Meridian's Penny Silvester watched the fish rescue at the Kennet & Avon canal

The Canal & River Trust has been carrying out a mass fish rescue at the Kennet & Avon Canal ahead of a £1.8 million project to upgrade the electric water pumping system in Wiltshire.

40-year-old pumps, pipes and electrics replaced with a modern, more efficient and reliable system at Crofton near Marlborough.

Six miles of the canal will be drained for works to take place.

The 40 year-old pumping system keeps the water topped up for boats, towpath users and wildlife.

Specialists stun and capture fish

A specialist team use a metal halo to bring fish to the surface.

It emits a very low level electric current so any fish that come into contact with it will be paralysed temporarily.

Their muscles stop working so they float up to the surface where they are swept into the net and moved further up the canal to safety.

Draining a stretch of canal is a rare event and the Trust has collected hundreds of pounds of fish.

They've found the whole range UK native species including roach, perch, pike tench and bream.

Rescued fish go back into the canal

The existing electric pumps take water out of a small reservoir nearby and push it about 13 metres up a hill to the highest point in the canal a kilometre away.

But the pipeline is fractured in a few places and the pump is reaching the end of its life and the electricity supply needs to be upgraded.

A six mile stretch of the canal will be closed until mid March next year.