Anglers have been working around the clock to save aquatic life at a lake where thousands of fish died suddenly.
Peatmoor Angling Club in Swindon has pulled “thousands and thousands” of dead fish from Peatmoor Lagoon after oxygen levels in the water dropped.
Some members have been camping overnight to monitor the situation.
The Environment Agency (EA) has deployed aerators to increase oxygen levels and has taken water samples to help identify the cause of the problem.
The angling club said the lake had lost nearly all of its fish stock which had taken more than 40 years to build.
Members estimate that it will take about 10 years to replenish the numbers and bring the lake back to its former state.
It has launched a £100,000 fundraiser to restock species such as bream, pike and tench, which it says benefits the environment by maintaining a good ecosystem in the water and anglers who use the lake to improve their mental health.
Richard Reeves, vice-chairman of the angling club, said: “We’ve had to get the fish off the top of the water and dispose of them in black bags ready for the council’s contractors to to pick them up.
“We’ve managed to obtain from other clubs in the area some aerators to try and oxygenate the water and we have had some chaps down here who have been here 24 hours a day for about four or five days just to maintain the aerators because they need topping up with fuel.”
He added: “There has been a core of people who have been down here working very, very hard.
“It is thanks to them there’s a chance that the fishery might carry on and exist but it’s going to be a very expensive job.”
Committee member Paul Godden said members had so far been given little information about what had caused the fish to die.
“There was an oxygen shortfall which we assume was down to some kind of pollutant, but that’s a guess.
“We are still waiting for the results at this stage,” he said.
“The guys have been put in so much effort. I spent four hours taking fish out.
“It was soul destroying, but these guys have been here for days doing it. It’s a fantastic effort they’ve put in,” added Mr Godden.
Josh Hunter has been camping at the lagoon for almost a week to refuel the pumps, some of which have been donated by other angling groups.
He said he is happy to give up so much of his time because he had fished at the site with his late grandfather since he was a little boy.
“It’s home basically. That is the only way I can really put it,” he said.
An EA spokesperson said: “We are investigating a number of fish deaths and fish in distress on the Peatmoor Lagoon, Swindon.
“Members of the public who spot fish in distress should report it to our 24/7 incident hotline 0800 80 70 60 so that we can investigate.”
A Swindon Borough Council spokesperson said: “We are working with the Environment Agency and Peatmoor Angling Club to ensure the lagoon can be a thriving hub once again.
“Our warden team has visited the site to assist in the clean-up of the fish and we are awaiting more information from the Environment Agency with regards to what has happened.”
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