Fishery owners nationwide are being accused of being ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unprofessional’ after threatening to conceal fish deaths on their waters.
The criticism comes after popular Staffordshire commercial Heronbrook became the first fishery to be shut under strict new disease controls introduced to contain the spread of the deadly carp-killer KHV.
Heronbrook was only closed for two weeks before being given the all-clear, but in that time owner Neil Dale, who responsibly reported his problems to the Environment Agency, revealed he had lost £10,000 of business after Cefas fish health inspectors banned all movements of fish and, more importantly, angling equipment, on and off the fishery.
Now other fisheries are claiming they won’t report any fish deaths if it means they’ll lose business by being shut down, even though failure to do so is now a criminal offence under the new control regime established by the Aquatic Animal Health Directive (2009) introduced in March.
“Our members claim they aren’t getting enough answers, help or support. Some fisheries are warning that instead of reporting cases to the EA and Cefas they’ll conceal deaths and get rid of the evidence,” Nigel Harrhy, owner of Barston Lakes and chairman of the Professional Coarse Fisheries Association, told Angling Times.
But his concerns have provoked an unprecedented backlash from some quarters of the sport.
“Ninety per cent of fishery owners in this country haven’t got a clue what they’re doing,” was the shocking claim made by former matchman and Glebe Fishery owner Roy Marlow.
“Some owners and anglers seem to forget that we’re dealing with living, breathing creatures. Treating fish purely as a means of making money is ethically wrong and will do the sport as a whole no good,” he added.
But Roy’s accusations paled in comparison to those made by Fish Welfare Group frontman Mike Heylin, a leading figure in the ongoing battle to clean up fisheries and secure KHV-free status for all of England and Wales.
“I don’t want people in my sport who haven’t a clue about what they’re doing. Such so-called fishery managers have no right buying fish and selling day tickets to anglers. All they are is exploiters of fish and anglers and angling would be better off without them,” said former Specialist Anglers’ Alliance secretary Mike.
“If fishery owners haven’t learnt about their responsibilities to their fish stocks and customers as they are set out under the law, then I have absolutely no sympathy when they whine about the possibility of losing money if they’re shut down.
“It beggars belief that these people can’t even be bothered to get involved with the consultation processes for those laws and rule changes that directly affect the industry that provides them with their livelihoods,” he added.
For a full and detailed explanation of the new fishery and fish movement rules, click HERE.