Is this the end of overstocking?


The days of 400lb-plus mega-weight commercial waters could become a thing of the past after tough new Government guidelines were introduced to eradicate over-stocking and prevent the spread of killer diseases.

New rules implemented this year will require every fishery in the UK to be registered on a Government database, allowing each water to be closely monitored and preventing fishery owners from exceeding stocking regulations.

Venue bosses wishing to introduce fish, or even move existing stocks around their own site, will now be required by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) to provide stocking figures, species lists and details of suppliers.

Not only will this help eradicate overstocking, but should go some way towards preventing and finding the source of diseases such as Koi Herpes Virus.

“This is a hugely important move for the sport because those fisheries that operate on a ‘put and kill’ basis, whereby they just stock and stock until the fish are jammed into an overcrowded environment and then die, won’t be able to run a business,” said Mike Heylin, who is a board member of the Angling Trust.

“These fisheries give the sport a bad name, and to produce and promote venues that are overstocked with unhealthy fish is like drawing a target on our heads, loading a gun and putting it into the hands of the antis. These fish might be in a commercial environment, but they are essentially wild creatures and fishery owners are responsible for their well-being.”

The scheme, which is part of the Aquatic Animal Health Regulations 2009 and is being implemented by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has been welcomed by a host of leading fishery owners, among them Sarah Thomson, manager of Barford Lakes in Norwich and former chairman of the Professional Coarse Fisheries Association.

“Fisheries that illegally stock and keep fish in unsuitable conditions are not only giving the sport a bad name, but also increasing the spread of disease. That’s simply not fair on those who work professionally and operate through the correct channels,” said Sarah.

This is a view shared by reigning world champion Will Raison, who co-owns the popular Gold Valley Lakes in Hampshire.

He said: “I’m sick to death of those so-called fishery owners who put making a fast buck first by piling illegally-stocked fish into a lake. They are putting the honest, hard-working fisheries at risk.”