The Falkirk Wheel Fish Rescue


One of the most interesting fish rescues I have ever been involved in happened recently (30th September 2002) in Scotland. Previous trips over the past few years have seen extensive fish rescues undertaken on the Union Canal (Falkirk to Edinburgh) and the Forth & Clyde Canal (Falkirk to Glasgow), but nothing quite as breathtaking as this. As part of the millennium link 20 million pounds has been invested in the joining of these two canals. Due to the degree of elevation between these waterways a series of locks would have been both complicated and extensive. The solution was a 35-metre diameter rotating wheel. Transporting boats between the canals has allowed the navigation from Glasgow too Edinburgh coupled with a truly successful tourist attraction. The wheel has pulled upwards of 230,000 visitors in the first 5 months of opening, well above initial expectations.

Scheduled maintenance meant the draining of the top tunnel section to the lock and the lower boat basin. With the massive public interest in the site a fish rescue was both imperative and essential. Historically the two aforementioned canals are not the highest stocked in the country. However, as any canal angler will know basins tend to attract fish. Larger fish were conspicuous with their absence, but many hundreds of smaller roach, perch, pike and sticklebacks were present. Alongside these species were a number of healthy brown trout indicating good water quality. To learn more about the phenomenon they call the Falkirk Wheel visit the official site at

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