Union Canal: More than 1000 fish rescued following breach near Whitecross and Muiravonside

Teams have been working to transfer stranded fish from pools down stream of the breach back to the canal

Monday, 17th August 2020, 2:10 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 3:18 pm

More than 1000 fish have been rescued from pools of water downstream of the Union Canal breach.

Since the severe weather last week, a series of initial works have been carried out by Scottish Canals and their partners to secure the area and completely stop the flow of water at the breach.

As part of these works, a team from The Forth Rivers Trust has rescued a variety of freshwater fish including pike, perch, roach, eel, three spined stickleback and brown trout returning them to their natural habitat in the canal.

The breach happened in the early hours of last Wednesday morning. (Pic: Scottish Canals)

However work is still ongoing to rescue more fish which have been stranded as a result of the incident.

Dr Olivia Lassiere, Scottish Canals’ Environment Manager, said: “Following last week’s severe weather across Scotland which resulted in a breach of the Union Canal near the A801 between Polmont and Muiravonside, Scottish Canals has now carried out a series of initial works.

"Alongside our partners we have secured the area and completely stopped the flow of water at the breach, this was a challenging task completed by our professional team.

“As part of the works, The Forth Rivers Trust have undertaken the professional and diligent job of rescuing over 1000 fish from the pools of water downstream of the breach.

"The seven-strong expert team has now rescued a variety of freshwater fish including; pike, perch, roach, eel, three spined stickleback and brown trout returning them to their natural habitat in the canal.

“Over the course of the weekend staff from both Scottish Canals and the Forth Rivers Trust maintained a presence onsite to monitor the water levels of larger pools downstream of the breach which were too large for to mount an effective rescue operation.

"Now that water has receded to a manageable level the team of fish experts will continue their work today.”

The team are using techniques including electrofishing and seine netting to safely catch and transfer the fish from the pools back into the canal.

The statement added: “We are grateful for our partners’ quick response and diligence in rescuing canal fish which were stranded as a result of this incident.”

A 30 metre section of the canal townpath and embankment was washed away in the early hours of last Wednesday morning after torrential rain and thunderstorms over night.

In a bid to stop water draining from the canal through the breach, temporary clay dams were put in place in the days following the incident and work began on starting to restore water levels in the canal.

The breach saw water from the canal make its way downhill and onto the tracks of the main Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line.

The line has been closed ever since due to the damage caused with no trains able to pass.

It is expected the rail disruption will continue for a number of weeks.

The canal is closed to through boating traffic and there is currently a towpath closure in place from the A801 bridge to the Vellore Road bridge.

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