Fishery expert says 40 per cent of fish deaths are caused by bait

One of the sport’s most respected and influential fishery bosses has this week revealed he believes anglers’ bait is responsible for up to 40 per cent of fish deaths in the UK.

Roy Marlow, owner of the popular Glebe and Mallory Park Fisheries in Leicestershire, has stated that waters which constantly suffer fish kills and poor water quality should look no further than luncheon meat and pellets as the cause.

He is convinced that the high levels of fat and oil found in the tinned bait and fish feed such as halibut pellets, combined with the sheer amount used by some anglers, result in not only physical damage to the livers of species such as carp, but also in dangerous water quality risk at club and commercial fisheries alike.

“I didn’t ban meat and restrict the amount of pellets used at my waters for fun,” Roy told Angling Times. “It was because baits containing high levels of oil and fat are devastating for a fishery’s health.

“Owners and anglers need to stop blaming other factors for fish deaths and take a serious look at the type and quantity of baits that are used on a daily basis.

“Halibut and trout pellets are some of the worst things you could ever feed a coarse fish. They damage the liver with a terrible knock on effect to their immune system.

The fats from the bait are then deposited into the silt via the fish’s faeces and this, along with uneaten bait, can’t be broken down by the natural bacteria in the water, the result of which is deadly,” added Roy.

The revelation comes in the same week that Cranbrook & District Angling Club has banned the use of pellets on its waters after the introduction of ‘huge amounts of bait is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of carp and catfish at its popular Springwood Fishery near Canterbury.

“You could physically see the oil coming off the bottom in huge slicks,” said the association’s Dave Sherwood. “It’s no coincidence we’ve now lost fish, giving us no choice but to ban the bait.

“We heard that following the ban one angler who fishes for the cats at Springfield had tried to off-load 200kg of pellets to one of our local tackle shops, but even they don’t stock that amount.

“Basically the anglers have to realise that Springfield isn’t the River Ebro. A small, three acre lake just can’t sustain oil-rich baiting campaigns like this.” Respected fisheries scientist Simon Scott of Sparsholt College is of the opinion that careful monitoring and restrictions on the use of high oil content baits is vital to the survival of any stillwater.

“Baits such as halibut pellets and meat are fine if used in moderation, but they have the potential to pollute any environment if anglers are piling in kilo after kilo, especially if it’s not being eaten,” he told AT.