A mere £1,000 can protect a fishery from otter attacks

Fishing clubs could protect their fisheries from otters for less than £1,000. That’s the message from an enterprising group of anglers who managed to shut out the predators for good with a ‘DIY’ fencing solution costing a fraction of the amount being quoted in the public domain.

It has been widely publicised that materials for otter fencing typically cost around £9 per metre, meaning most of the country’s cash-strapped angling clubs will struggle to afford the estimated £800 to £1,200 needed to protect each acre of their lakes.

But the enterprising members of Market Rasen Social Club AA have succeeded in cancelling the otter threat for far less.

“We installed a three-wire electric fence around our 4.5 acre lake and it cost £800 between all of us,” explained club member Brian Hankins.

“In the past we lost carp to 28lb to otters, but in the three years since we put up our DIY fence we’ve not lost one. It might not be a solution for everyone but it certainly worked for us,” he added.

Brian and his fellow club members kept the cost down by salvaging much of the raw materials needed, and gave up many hours of their spare time for work parties to install the barrier through woodland surrounding the venue.

Last year the Environment Agency earmarked just £100,000 to provide the most at risk public waters with grants to help cover fencing costs, with one of the lucky beneficiaries being Yarm AC, which fenced one of their lakes in County Durham.

“Otters absolutely ruined our five-and-a-half acre lake, eating around £6,000-worth of carp. It cost us around £14,000 to fence and the EA gave us a 50 per cent grant.

“It took a lot of badgering and phone calls to get the money but it was worth it. My message to other clubs who need backing is to keeping pestering the Agency. If you just sit back, you’ll get nowhere,” said Yarm AC secretary Richard Sidgwick.

Chris Burt, part of the Specialist Anglers’ Alliance project which researched otter fencing six years ago, believes that the EA needs to significantly boost the amount on offer to clubs, and also make the grant application more user-friendly.

“What the sport needs is for the Agency to formalize a national application process for grants. And unless they find substantially more funding they risk failing in their statutory duty to protect fish stocks and leaving anglers vulnerable to these government-sponsored predators,” he said.