Keith Arthur - Fish smugglers should beware

The eyes and ears of anglers are on you - good thing too! I am deeply aware of how long ECHO has been working on this new Crimestopper initiative and just how thrilled Ruth Lockwood and the gang that worked on it are to get it off the ground.

The finances were hard to find, but well done to those that stumped up.

I have read so many moans and groans about fish theft in this paper and elsewhere, and now the ball is in the court of the moaners. Fish smugglers beware - carp ‘liberators’ and re-homers, the world is on your case big-time.

Our fish stocks, currently carp only, are under persistent and increasing threat of disease. I’ve lived through roach, perch and bleak declines - almost total wipe-outs - from virus and infection. None of those species was as important to our sport as carp - they ARE our sport as far as coarse fishing is concerned.

Lose carp and you lose 90 per cent-plus of the tackle shops and suppliers virtually in one fell swoop, never mind fisheries.

And don’t think the cold winter and chilly spring have helped. I heard just this week that a club fished a pond at the weekend with the stink of rotting fish, ‘floaters’ and ‘gaspers’ all around. They didn’t realise how bad the situation was until they had actually started fishing.

The owner swore the EA had tested and was quoting ‘stress’ and ‘overstocking’ as the cause. I’ve heard that plenty of times, and within days it is usual that KHV is confirmed at the site.

We anglers can be blasé because nowadays there are so many fisheries that another choice of venue can be found within a similar radius and we think that’s okay. It most certainly is not okay from the fishes’ perspective, the owners’ perspective and the whole future and credibility of our sport. You can help, but don’t make the mistake of thinking the next bloke will.