9. Old River Lea Barbel Project
Theme: Ecology and morphology
- Improve riverine and riparian habitat
- Improve river function and sustainability
A special interest group has formed to identify and address issues on the Old River Lea affecting barbel.
Barbel is a fish species native to the River Lea and is a good indicator of river health. Their varied habitat requirements mean that if the river supports a self-sustaining barbel population, it will also provide the habitats needed by wider biodiversity that should be present within the river.
Barbel is also an important fish for angling; the River Lea is a historic site for barbel fishing and is mentioned in Isaak Walton's iconic 18th century book 'The Compleat Angler'.
There has been a percieved decline in barbel stocks within the Old River Lea reported by anglers which is supported by historic survey data.
In response to this, a barbel special interest sub-group was formed in 2017 by members of the Lower Lea Catchment Partnership, with the overall aim of restoring a self sustaining barbel population within the Old River Lea.
The group will achieve this by;
- Reviewing the current state of barbel habitat within the Old River Lea.
- Identifying threats to barbel stocks and proposing solutions.
- Identifying priorities for barbel habitat creation and enhancement.
- Agreeing an action plan for the partnership to work towards.
- Delivering planned actions.
- Monitoring and reviewing project outcomes.
To date work has been carried out to:
- Restore a section of the River Lea through Kings Weir and Fishers Green - see project.
- Clean gravel spawning beds to reduce siltation.