A worried fishery owner has been left heartbroken after 5,000 of his carp were killed in the space of a couple of months by a mysterious illness.
Anthony Clappison is issuing a dire warning to fisheries nationwide of the risk to their stocks after spending weeks removing up to 45,000lb of dead carp from his fishery, Risby Park, near Beverley in East Yorkshire.
The popular four-lake pleasure and match venue was the scene of every fishery owner’s worst nightmare as dead carp weighing up to 20lb started floating to the surface.
Even more worryingly for carp fisheries up and down the country, the Risby carp have tested negative for the deadly Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) and Spring Viraemia of Carp (SVC), two carp killing diseases that have ravaged fisheries in the last few years.
The shocking scenario raises concerns that commercial fisheries are facing yet another spate of mystery carp deaths similar to that which struck specimen carp waters throughout the Midlands after last summer’s floods, mortalities which continue to baffle scientists 12 months on.
“I’ve put my whole life and soul into this fishery over the last 18 years to get it to where it was, and to have to drag hundreds of lifeless fish out of the water – fish that brought so much pleasure to me and my regular anglers – is too much to bear,” Anthony Clappison told Angling Times.
And the distraught fishery owner is praying that no-one else has to face a ‘catastrophe’ requiring them to drag around 200 dead carp between 9lb and 20lb from their lakes every day for two months.
Coupled with the loss of day tickets, and match cancellations, it’s a scenario that has cost Anthony an estimated £50,000 in fish stocks and £25,000 worth of business.
“The deaths have stopped now and the lakes are fishing well, but to have lost so much and not even know what’s caused it is the worst thing. I’ve always done things to the letter of the law and managed each of the lakes to the best of my ability, and I’m desperate to find out what’s gone wrong,” he said.
The Environment Agency has admitted to being ‘concerned’ about the recent mortalities at Risby Park and has revealed that, despite there having been no notifiable disease outbreaks so far this year, its Brampton Fisheries Lab is currently investigating a case of fish mortalities every day.
Some of those deaths have been caused by parasitic and bacterial disease outbreaks but, according to EA scientist Nigel Hewlett, most deaths have been caused by poor fisheries management practices, most notably over-stocking. And that suggests the number of ‘large-scale fish mortalities’ could soon skyrocket as fishery managers who are continually put under pressure to cater for huge bags leave their waters vulnerable to oxygen depletion and poor water quality issues.
“Fish deaths cause ecological and economic damage to fisheries, so it’s important that fishery managers ensure they have the knowledge that enables them to reduce the risk of disease problems,” explained Nigel, EA technical advisor on the National Fisheries Technical Team.
“We understand that many fishery managers are under pressure to produce large catches of fish, and they manage that demand very successfully.
“However, it is important that people who look after fisheries ensure they get good advice, either from the Environment Agency or fisheries consultants, in order to avoid these problems that worryingly seem to be increasing every year,” he added.