Keith Arthur: KHV-infected waters on the rise

I’m not surprised that a fish importer took the opportunity to challenge my recent ‘apocalypse’ scenario regarding KHV. Mike Hawes (AT Letters, Oct 19th) is, of course, right ¬ the number of reported KHV cases has dropped.

However, thanks to the ‘blunt instrument’ approach of DEFRA, it would be naive to think that all cases are actually reported.

It’s also more than naïve to think that, just because case numbers have dropped, those waters carrying the virus now don’t have it. They do, and once the trigger is right the fish in those waters will die. That’s a guarantee.

KHV is also in several natural watercourses, including major river catchments such as the Thames and Nene, and Mike’s assertion that ‘only 0.25 per cent of fisheries are affected’ is a smokescreen ¬ CEFAS states that every region in the British Isles now has KHV.

He also stated that there have ‘only been 10 to 12 new cases this year’. The official number is, in fact, 26 so far, with the record low October temperatures likely to increase that number.

I might not have the required scientific degrees, but my reading and common sense are pretty good.

So, while the number of new cases may not be increasing at the same rate, the total number of infected waters is increasing each year ¬ and will not be going down.
The ornamental fish trade and keepers have a very different approach to KHV: they remove and destroy fish, drain the water totally and disinfect the pond, which is usually concrete, or at least lined. It simply isn’t possible to do that to a mud pond.

The situation begs a number of questions. Would we lose more jobs by stopping the import of fish than by losing more than 70 per cent of tackle production and sales, or 99 per cent of all commercial fisheries?

Why can’t we breed carp here from the many diverse strains already in place?

And wouldn’t this create more jobs than allowing a foreign country, where KHV is rife, to simply deliver their diseased fish here?

That’s the easy route and, in my opinion, a slippery slope, the bottom of which probably won’t be reached in my lifetime. But I have seen more than enough dead, decaying carp to last the amount of lifetime I’ve had so far, and would rather not see any more.