Britain's anglers are being urged to play a major part in stopping the spread of a deadly disease that continues to threaten our fisheries.
Several high-profile commercials have been hit by Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) in recent weeks but experts believe that the problem can be contained if anglers pull together.
Thousands of pounds have been spent on research to find out how the disease is spread, with evidence suggesting it can latch on to landing nets and keepnets and be transferred when anglers visit other fisheries if the nets have not been exposed to ultra-violet light and dried out.
Leading scientist Bruno Broughton is adamant that anglers hold the key to eradicating KHV. He said: “This is a highly infectious disease of carp with a high mortality rate.
“But anglers have the power to help slow the spread of KHV by making sure all nets and carp sacks are dried thoroughly in sunlight. UV light kills the virus, and if all anglers did this it could make a huge difference to the number of fisheries that contract the disease.”
Worcestershire’s Larford Lakes is among those that has been hit by the virus. Staff there are opting to stay open for business while introducing measures including net dips to try and stop KHV spreading further.
The Glebe Fishery has also contracted the disease and has been closed to members until at least early August. Owner Roy Marlow said: “People have asked how we got KHV, and as we do not buy any fish in, by far the most likely cause is that it was transferred by anglers with infected nets kept in a stink bag that had recently been in an infected water.
“We have a dry net rule, but it only needs one angler not to abide by it and it’s a disaster.”
Many fisheries have net dips and provide their own nets to help prevent the spread of disease, but more and more venue owners are now insisting that anglers dry their nets before fishing.
One such complex is the popular Barston Lakes, in Solihull, West Midlands. Barston hasn’t been affected by KHV, and takes all the precautions necessary to safeguard the venue.
Top fisheries consultant and owner of AE Fisheries, Andrew Ellis, believes that commercial fishery bosses also have a massive part to play in KHV prevention. He said: “Too many fishery owners don’t have regular surveys done in the winter and therefore know nothing about their lakes with regard to key factors such as stocking densities.
“Many fisheries choose to introduce more fish without knowing how many they have in the first place. This is very dangerous once water temperatures start to rise and we experience the kind of weatherwe’ve had in the last few weeks.
“Ensuring that you have a healthy fishery is the best way to keep issues such as KHV at bay, and I’d advise any owner that hasn’t had any advice on the issue to get in touch.”
WHAT IS KHV?
KHV is a highly infectious disease that hits hardest in water temperatures between 16°C and 28°C. Outside of this range it may stop affecting a fishery. It is spread from fish to fish, but other agencies can be responsible for its transfer, including fish urine, faeces and infected water. On some fisheries KHV can wipe out just a handful of fish while on others the whole stock of carp can die from it.
The first confirmed outbreaks were in Israel in 1998, since when it has spread rapidly to at least four continents. It was first reported in the UK in ornamental fish in 2000, but the first main outbreak in recreational fisheries was in 2006. Since then there have been between six and 25 confirmed outbreaks each year. There is no known cure.
Any fishery who suspects they have KHV must inform CEFAS, who will then investigate and confirm whether or not this is the case by running a series of tests.
3 STEPS TO PREVENT KHV
Anglers hold the key to stopping the spread of KHV. Here are three simple things you can do to help the cause.
1 Let the sun do its work
Dry your nets – nets that are damp and chucked in the garage will harbour infections that can live for weeks on end.
But by putting your nets out on the lawn in sunlight once you get home, you are almost guaranteed to kill any infections.
If you are unable to dry your nets at home, lay them out on the bank at the fishery before your session, giving them at least 45 minutes in direct sunlight.
2 Tend to your stink bags
Empty stink bags – the stagnant water that collects in the bottom of these can also harbour deadly bugs.
Tip the water out of your bag, making sure you do this well away from any venue so that it can’t seep in. Keep your stink bag open while you are fishing and allow the sunlight to dry it, killing all the bugs in the process.
3 Sterilise your nets
Use net dips – hundreds of commercials insist on visitors fully submerging their keepnets in a chemical solution before they start to fish. Although there is a lot of debate as to how effective dips are in the fight against disease, there is certainly no evidence to suggest they cause harm, and when in place they should be used.
Drying your nets after they have been dipped makes it even more likely that all bugs will be killed.
HELP IS AT HAND...
The Fish Health Inspectorate is part of Government agency the Centre for Environment, Food and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS). If you have any worries about your stocks email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 01305 206700.