“Operation Carp Lift” – Sandown Canoe Lake

Operation carp lift rescue

REPORTAugust 2020


Blue Seas Protection is a registered Marine Conservation Charity no. 1189529 affiliated with UN Ocean Action Group and registered Stop Ecocide Earth Protectors.  The Chairman, Garry Oates, has over 40 years of professional diving experience, ship operation and marine salvage and rescue work, including in a Supervisory capacity.  He is a Lloyds registered surveyor.  The charity holds all necessary insurances to cover public events.  We hold publicly audited accounts with Charity Aid Foundation Bank.  We are entirely not-for-profit and none of our Trustees and Volunteers are paid.


Blue Seas Protection provided voluntary Emergency Response services to the callout at Sandown Canoe Lake. 

An initial meeting at the lake, where the Ward Councillor and Matthew Sherwood presented their cases to several of the general public, revealed that unless permission was gained from the landowner any activity would be deemed as Trespass.  The Councillor also said that the Environment Agency had been to the lake with her previously and saw no risk to the fish although we could clearly see the silt uncovered and birds were wading in water in areas which was only up to their ankles.  It was only a matter of time before we ended up with a lakeful of mud and dead fish.  Blue Seas Protection decided that to do nothing was not an option and obtained the necessary permission in writing from the landowner. 

It was suggested that a holding area be made to provide deeper water for the fish.  This was initially suggested to be in the far corner of the lake near to a water supply inlet but subsequently discarded due to the logistical difficulty of getting sandbags to that area.  Following this meeting a facebook page was set up: Sandown Canoe Lake Save Our Fish.

After various appeals on social media Gary Davis turned up from Cowes with his knowledgeable angling friends and started to co-ordinate the rescue and retrieval of the fish in a professional way using correct equipment to recover the fish.

The first holding tank was constructed on the large concrete area adjacent to the lake but police were called and they ordered that the tank be dismantled and the fish returned to the muddy lake to die.  This was met with a general public outcry and opposition. Garry Oates pointed out that the police were quoting general movement of fish regulations and not emergency response regulations.  “Laws of ecology supercede any other law where life is concerned” he said. “If we put the fish back in the lake they will be dead!”.  We had been led to understand that the fish had been arranged to be collected from the tank and moved by fisheries/EA at 6pm that evening.  In the event, these “official” people did not turn up.  The tank was left until the fish in it were safely moved, then transferred to a site within the lake and a second tank built alongside.  Fire Service were called several times but different reasons for not attending were given.

The RSPCA were contacted and visited by Gary Davis and Sue from Blue Seas Protection and around 20(?) fish were able to be temporarily homed there.   A big part of the overall process was gaining approval from Environment Agency for the fish to be moved with the proper certification.  This, like the rest of the formal bureaucratic process was time consuming and frustrating but finally achieved by Charlotte Gladdis. 

Eventually however around 250 (?) fish were safely and legally rescued and transported.


“Forgive us if we didnt have time to tie our shoelaces or put white dots on the pavements but we did save 255 giant carp lives and averted an environmental catastrophe”… Garry Oates

“The meeting of soooo many kind caring and compassionate people has restored any doubts I had before.  The bravery of Matthew’s statement taught me that people do really care about others as well as our environment”-…Lisa Reynolds

“Personally my faith in community spirit and the amount of food, drink and equipment donated blew my mind”…-Lisa Reynolds

“An honourable and humbling week to be involved and part of Blue Seas Protection and our community”…-Lisa Reynolds

“Its great to see the Biosphere in Action-Island Community all working together with the authorities (eventually) to effect a positive outcome for our AONB, ecology and environment”…-Sue Betts