ENVIRONMENTAL experts have stepped in to save hundreds of fish in a stretch of river after water levels dropped dangerously low.

Water levels in the River Rye, near Helmsley, in North Yorkshire, usually drop at this time of year, but are exceptionally low due to the shortage of rain during spring.

The dry conditions are causing problems for a number of species of fish in the river, which are struggling to find food and enough space.

A spokesman for the agency said that although Yorkshire is not in a drought, it has to take action if fish are in distress or problems are expected.

In an attempt to save as many fish as possible, a team from fisheries department at the Environment Agency yesterday netted dozens of crayfish, brown trout, and grayling, as well as smaller species, from a half-mile stretch of the river.

Although the fish could be moved to another river, the team has decided to move them further upstream in the River Rye, in an attempt to minimise their distress.

It is hoped that by the time they travel back downstream the river levels will be back to normal.

Fisheries team leader Phil Young said: "We know that this part of the River Rye can get really low during the summer months and we’ve rescued fish from here before.

"That’s why, when we have exceptionally dry weather conditions, like we’ve had over the last few months, this is an area we would be keeping a close eye on.

"We’ve taken the decision to get as many fish as we can find out of the river in this area and ensure their survival."