Fisheries scientists and angling groups have slammed the Environment Agency this week after it gave the go-ahead for controversial fish barriers to be built at one of the prime spawning locations for coarse fish on the Norfolk Broads.
Last year a successful legal challenge was launched against an earlier decision by the EA and Natural England to install barriers in Hoveton Great Broad (HGB) as part of a plan ‘to promote more weed growth’.
That decision was made despite warnings from the EA’s fisheries teams and experts from the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM) that the barriers would have a detrimental effect on fish stocks in HGB and the Northern Broads system. Now, following a second consultation, the plan has been given the green light once more in a move that has angered the angling community.
Kelvin Allen, chairman of the Broads Angling Services Group, said:
“We are staggered at the Agency’s disregard for the data and of its own fisheries officers’ concerns. Its actions will destroy any trust that anglers have in the Agency’s support of fish, fisheries and anglers.
“It also opens up the very real risk that the famous Broads bream stocks will be severely damaged for decades to come.”
The decision has also left angling’s policymakers exasperated. Martin Salter, from the Angling Trust, added:
“The top brass at the EA have rolled over to please their colleagues in Natural England rather than follow the advice of their own fisheries experts who had spent seven years on fish surveys, studies and tagging at a cost of more than £250,000 of rod licence and taxpayers’ money. These studies showed beyond all doubt that the proposed barriers would be harmful to the recruitment of bream stocks in the Northern Broads.
“Bream are one of the iconic species upon which the £100 million angling economy of the Norfolk Broads depends.”