AN OPERATION is planned to move thousands of fish before a canal is drained for repairs.

Scottish Canals said the exercise to drain part the Union Canal near Linlithgow will also provide a rare chance to glimpse the bed of the 200-year-old waterway.

Two open days are being held to allow people to view parts of the engineering structure which are usually out of sight underwater.

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About 30,000 cubic metres of water is being removed and the fish, mainly tench, perch, roach and pike,will be caught with nets and electro-fishing.

They will be transferred to holding tanks and released into adjacent sections of the canal.

Scottish Canals infrastructure director Richard Millar said: "The canal is a much-loved asset that attracts more than ten million visits each year from everyone from boaters and cyclists to joggers and walkers.

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"However, many of them visit the waterway without ever seeing all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, and below the waterline, to look after the heritage, engineering, and habitats of this scheduled monument.

"The project we're undertaking at Linlithgow is a fantastic chance for the public to see the scale of work that goes into caring for the incredible infrastructure of the canal.

"They will be able to glimpse the craftsmanship of the waterway's 18th century design as it exists below the waterline, and take a tour of the canal's history, engineering and habitats led by the people who know it best - our passionate and knowledgeable engineers, environmental scientists, and heritage experts."

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The open days will be held from 1pm-3pm on Tuesday, January 17 - when visitors will be able to see the fish being moved - and Saturday, February 4 when engineering, environmental and heritage experts will be on hand.