'Keepnet ban was the right decision'


The boss of one of the nation’s biggest commercial fisheries has claimed the introduction of a keepnet ban has led to an 80 per cent reduction in fish deaths at his venue.

Cudmore Fisheries chief Cyril Brewster implemented the controversial ruling after discovering that a minority of visitors had been stuffing ‘obscene amounts’ of fish into the retention devices.

When an increasing number of dead fish began turning up in the margins, Cyril was forced into action, despite protests from other customers at the Staffordshire complex that they were being unfairly penalised.

“Billy Makin always said keepnets shouldn’t be used in pleasure sessions and I never agreed, but it appears he was right. Since they were outlawed we have scooped around 80 per cent fewer dead fish out of our waters than we usually would. The bottom line is that the health of my fish is paramount,” explained Cyril.

Some disgruntled locals have suggested that a better course of action would have been for fishery staff to monitor the use of keepnets, but Cyril is adamant this isn’t a feasible option: “On several occasions we have caught anglers having knock-ups on the pleasure lakes, fishing for over 12 hours and placing over 200lb in each keepnet in some cases. Unfortunately, it is quite impossible to police how many fish go into a keepnet ¬ we’d have to have a constant vigil of all the anglers on the lake ¬ so a ban was our only option. Most people understand the decision and I thank them for their co-operation,” Cyril added.

One fellow fishery boss who disagrees with Cyril’s outlook is Paul White, of Surrey’s Willinghurst Fisheries, one of a dwindling number of venues that still permits the use of keepnets. He believes pleasure rods can be trusted to use them responsibly: “We limit anglers to 60lb in each net and they are only allowed to retain the fish for up to four hours. We do checks around the waters, but we find that virtually all pleasure anglers respect the rules and apply commonsense.” Fisheries scientists have always maintained that keepnets compromise fish welfare standards, and Mark Burdass, senior lecturer at Sparsholt College, told Angling Times: “If fish are crowded without good water quality and water flow around them they could die ¬ if not in the net then after they have swum off.  This is simply because they have used up all their body reserves to survive in the confined conditions and can’t recover after release.”