By the end of this year the type of sport that fisheries offer anglers could change beyond all recognition.
October 1 will see the introduction of a tough new Europe-wide regime aimed at controlling Koi Herpes Virus – and the implications are truly staggering.
Under the new rules any fishery suspected of being infected will be hit with controls restricting the movement of fish out and the movement of susceptible fish in.
The rules could spell the end for intensively stocked commercial fisheries – if they get infected they can’t re-stock with carp until given the all-clear, thereby drastically reducing their viability as profitable businesses.
“We’re very positive about these developments. It would be great to be KHV free, but that has become increasingly unrealistic the more outbreaks we’ve suffered,” explained the Fish Welfare Fund’s Mike Heylin, angling’s main representative in the consultation process.
“There are still huge risks where KHV is concerned and fisheries are going to have to take their bio-security extremely seriously in future – their very livelihoods will depend on it.
“And if it wasn’t for money contributed by the trade, especially Korda, then angling wouldn’t even have been represented in the long, drawn out discussions,” added Mike.
Scientists are still working hard to get to grips with KHV to properly understand how it spreads and how long infected fish remain a risk.
But one man who has always recognised the threat it poses to angling is Korda’s Danny Fairbrass.
Korda provided funding that ensured our sport was represented in the Defra consultation process by paid-up professionals capable of fighting angling’s corner.
“From my point of view these developments are excellent news,” said Danny.
“If there were no carp in this country then angling would be nowhere near as big as it is. We didn’t think twice about pledging £60,000 to the Fish Welfare Fund over three years. At Korda we’re all anglers and we want our carp stocks protected.
“We looked at it as putting something back into the sport, as well as protecting our business by protecting angling. It’s disappointing and embarrassing that more of the trade didn’t contribute to the fund,” added Danny.
The news comes in the same week that Defra issued Designated Area Orders to Press Manor Fishery, near Chesterfield, and Pavyotts Mill Farm, near Yeovil, after Cefas’ Fish Health Inspectorate confirmed recent fish mortalities were due to outbreaks of KHV.
One fishery owner who has learned to cope with the legacy of KHV is Stafford Moor’s Andy Seery.
“Mine is still a viable business and I’m glad that I didn’t quit as I was tempted to when I first learnt we’d had an
outbreak two years ago,” explained Andy.
“I was allowed to re-stock with carp and matches are being won with 200lbplus weights of carp and 100lb-plus bags of silverfish,” he added.