Monday, May 14, 2007

Broads should recover from salt tides - EA

Norfolk's pike fishing mecca does not appear to have been harmed by last winter's storm surges, the Environment Agency said today.

Anglers feared the worst as gales lashed the East Coast last November, driving salt tides higher than normal up the rivers Yare and Thurne.

But a report in Angle - the EA's magazine for anglers in East Anglia - says: "The tidal flooding of the Broads last November should have little effect on fish stocks, and anglers can look forward to a good season's sport."

The EA adds the storm surge, on November 1, was the highest since the 1953 floods, which killed more than 40 people as the sea broke through defences.

"It was one of the worst incidents of fish deaths from natural causes in the Norfolk Broads in the last 15 years. Thousands of fish died."

But hundreds of thousands more were saved by flood barriers at Potter Heigham boatyards, which were packed with juvenile silver fish.

Mortality was worst on the Yare, where dead fish were seen upstream of Brundall. While it is difficult to assess how badly pike were affected, few were seen amid the large numbers of silver fish.

The EA's Graham Gamble said: "It was mainly the young fish which were lost and the numbers will be replenished naturally. I don't think anyone will notice any big difference this coming year."

But while a once in 50 year storm tide is not the end of fishing, such tides are predicted to become more common as sea levels rise and our climate changes.

There is already controversy over the way Broadland rivers are managed to contain water, rather than allow it to flood onto marshland as it has for centuries.