Killer disease sweeps Britain


● KHV found in almost 40 per cent of fisheries tested
● And now they’ve also discovered it in the Thames

More than a third of the commercials in England and Wales could be infected with Koi Herpes Virus, and specimen waters are still being put at risk by anglers illegally moving fish, Angling Times can exclusively reveal thisweek.

The shocking news has come out of a top level report published by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) after it tested carp at 71 high-risk commercial fisheries and found signs of KHV at 26 (37 per cent) of them.

And, in a double blow for the sport, it emerged this week that KHV had also struck at the very heart of English carp angling history after the killer disease was found at the exclusive The Fisheries AC complex, near Harefield in Middlesex.

That forced Defra to place a Designated Area Order over a massive part of the Colne Valley, restricting fish movements to and from more than 20 venues, including some of England’s most famous carp waters, such as Harefield, Broadwater, Korda and Savay lakes.

Persistent rumours in the aftermath of this latest fish-kill, and last year’s at CEMEX Angling’s Match Lake, point to the continued illegal movement of fish by anglers as the most likely cause of the introduction of KHV into low-stock specimen waters.

“The potential economic cost of this outbreak spreading cannot be underestimated – carp stocks in these Colne Valley fisheries are irreplaceable,” said the Fish Welfare Fund’s Mike Heylin.

“KHV is spread by infected fish. Hanging, drawing and quartering would be too good an end for whichever angler moved a diseased fish in this instance, because make no bones about it, that’s what has caused this outbreak. I’m running out of patience with those anglers who think that it’s okay to illegally move carp from one water to another without consent.

“As long as there are anglers out there who think they know better than the rest of us, these outbreaks will continue unabated,” he warned.

It is extremely unlikely that the disease was introduced by legal stockings, anglers’ equipment, wildfowl or members of the public dumping pet ornamentals. Instead, everything points to unscrupulous anglers being to blame.

“I strongly suspect that anglers aren’t getting the message when it comes to KHV. They don’t understand just how virulent the virus is, or that perfectly healthy seeming fish can be carriers,” warned ECHO spokesperson Ruth Lockwood.

“Everyone at ECHO is absolutely gutted at the news that KHV has spread to the Colne Valley. Many of our most famous carp waters are now covered by a Designated Area Order,” she added.

In the same week that the Colne outbreak was announced, Cefas published its report into the spread of KHV which revealed imported carp, especially ornamentals, remain the greatest threat.

Most worryingly, exposed fish were found in the Thames and 31 per cent of the positive sites are ‘online’ fisheries, meaning they are connected to river systems.