Fisheries urged to report KVH outbreaks
Fishery owners who discover a potential outbreak of the killer carp disease Koi Herpres Virus should act responsibly and report the fish kill to the Environment Agency, Sarah Thomson, Chair of the Professional Coarse Fisheries Association urged members at their latest meeting.
The meeting was attended by top scientists concerned with KHV, including Keith Jeffery, CEFAS Senior Field Inspector, who gave a presentation on the history of KHV, outlined the problems experienced in other countries and explained about the development of testing for the virus.
Also present were Senior Scientist from the Environment Agency, Nigel Hewlett, along with the EA's Fisheries Policies and Process Manager, Adrian Taylor. Nigel outlined the present status of the disease in the UK and helped explain what actions are being taken.
The PCFA has been pressing the EA to provide written guidance on what fishery owners should do if they have a KHV outbreak – something the Agency has promised to address.
According to PCFA Chair Sarah Thomson (right) this advice should include information on bio-security and, more importantly, how and what to stock to help get their businesses back on track.
She told the meeting: "I would urge any fishery owner who has had a suspected outbreak to be responsible and report it to the EA. Fisheries that do not wish to do this - something they are not obligated to do until KHV receives notifiable status next year - will find the EA can provide help and advice. It has also produced a usefgul publication entitled 'Living with KHV'.
"Defra has stated that it has anecdotal evidence that there may have been mortalities at other sites that have not been reported. So there are inevitably more than 23 fisheries that would benefit from this information. The reason some fisheries may not have reported suspected outbreaks may be through fear of fish movement restrictions being imposed or because the fish were illegally stocked, without Section 30 consent."
The PCFA is calling for the cause of the recent rise of KHV cases this year to be fully investigated and, until a fuller picture can be painted, fishery owners will have to tackle the issue of illegal stockings.
Sarah Thomson added: "I would strongly urge any sites that have experienced KHV this year to reflect on the fact that an illegal stocking is a so-called 'summary offence', which means it is heard in a magistrates court. This process is 'time barred by the statute of limitations' which means that any offence heard in front of a magistrate must have been committed within the last six months. If an illegal stocking has occurred, there is every chance that this was over six months ago, leaving the offender free from the risk of prosecution.
"The only way we can move forward and eliminate all possibilities for the cause of the high number of outbreaks this year is to investigate all possible causes thoroughly."
Whilst Sarah Thomson said it was understandable that fishery owners who have stocked illegally may not want to contact the EA directly, Guy Linley-Adams, the ACA's solicitor has offered to speak to the owners of these fisheries in confidence. He can be contacted on 01568 620447.
At the meeting it was revealed that of the 2003 and 2004 KHV cases, seven out of the 10 fisheries affected had re-stocked with native carp and had not had any further mortalities. This provides a ray of hope for any fishery which has been unfortunate enough to be struck by the deadly virus in 2006.
During the meeting, full-time angling coach Ian Boden gave an talk on promoting angling coaching at fisheries, and there were updates on important issues such as the Fisheries Bill Review, canoe access on waterways and the impending Fisheries Accreditation Scheme.
In addition to keeping members up to date on current affairs and ensuring the interests of commercial fisheries are protected, the PCFA will also continue to run its National Fishing Week initiative over the Whitsun holidays, acknowledging that it is better to recruit new anglers in the spring rather than at the end of summer.
A founder member of the national umbrella organisation, the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust (FACT), which liaises with Government on behalf of the sport, the PCFA is a non-profit making organisation which protects and promotes the interests of commercial coarse fisheries and currently represents more than 50 fisheries.
Membership costs just £75.00 per year. A full list of benefits can be found at www.pcfa.co.uk.
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