Thousands of fish will be removed from the Rochdale Canal when they drain it to carry out £345,000 worth of repairs.
Extensive work is now underway to repair the canal bank between Sowerby Bridge and Luddendenfoot and a specialist ‘fish rescue’ is working to re-home thousands of fish living close to the leak.
The canal has been closed at High Royd since before Christmas, after a leak was discovered.
The rescue team are using a humane technique called electro fishing, which will temporarily stun the fish with an electric current before removing them to safety and placing them in an unaffected stretch of the canal.
Richard Spencer, Canal & River Trust senior project manager, said: “The leak was spotted just before Christmas and we immediately lowered the canal water level to prevent further damage.
“We now need to drain more water from the canal to start work, but first we have to move the fish in this stretch to safety.
“The Canal & River Trust manages the biggest freshwater fishery in the country and people are often amazed at the size and diversity of the fish that come out of our waterways.
“Fish are among our most important residents and we take their safety very seriously.”
The work will involve building a new concrete wall in front of the leaking section of the bank.
The canal and the tow-path are temporarily closed to boats but is expected to re-open around Easter. A sign posted diversion is in place.