Many carp will die as Defra decides not to tackle KHV

Senior figures from within the sport have rounded on the Government following an announcement that it has decided not to undertake an eradication programme for KHV disease.

Despite years of campaigning by angling interests to eradicate the deadly virus, the contentious decision by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to declare England and Wales as ‘infected’ to the rest of the world killed any hopes of getting rid of KHV, which many believe will continue to cost angling millions of pounds.

Defra said: “A thorough assessment concluded that this is the most pragmatic approach after considering the likelihood of success in trying to eradicate the disease. Passive surveillance will continue, the disease will remain notifiable and existing control arrangements will stay in place when an outbreak is confirmed.

Imports of susceptible species from countries outside the EU and movements from other Member States will continue in line with the current rules.”

Rather than adopting such a ‘passive’ stance, many in angling had argued that vaccinating carp was the best way of stopping KHV, while others argued for the eradication of infected fisheries and a ban on the import of susceptible species.

“This decision could potentially cost angling billions over the next 20 years,” warned Angling Trust chairman Mike Heylin.

“We campaigned for a control and eradication regime because we recognise just how serious a risk KHV poses to the sport as a whole. Now we’ll never be rid of that threat, and the lack of import controls means diseased fish can still enter the UK.”

The English Carp Heritage Organisation (ECHO), the campaign group that fights for tighter controls of carp movements and imports in the ongoing battle against fish disease, was also upset by the news.

“We’re bitterly disappointed, but we’ll keep fighting. We really wanted to see a restriction on imports. Now there’s no way of guaranteeing KHV won’t find its way into the country from abroad,” insisted ECHO chairman Ruth Lockwood.