All of the top scientists concerned with KHV were present at the recent general meeting of the Professional Coarse Fisheries Association. 

 

Keith Jeffery (CEFAS Senior Field Inspector) gave a presentation on the history of KHV and problems in other countries and also explained about the development of testing for the virus.  Also attending was the Senior Scientist from the Environment Agency, Nigel Hewlett, along with the EA’s Fisheries Policies and Process Manager, Adrian Taylor.  Nigel presented a talk on 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 some form of written guidance on what fisheries can and should do if they have had an outbreak – something the Agency has promised to address. 

 

This advice should include information on bio-security and, more importantly, how and what to stock to help get their businesses back on track.  PCFA Chair, Sarah Thomson from Barford Lakes, commented:

 

            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 (which they are not obligated to do until KHV receives notifiable status next year) will find that advice that the EA can provide in its publication ‘Living with KHV’ will be useful. 

 

            “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 continued:

 

            “I would strongly urge that any sites that have experienced KHV this year reflect on the fact that an illegal stocking is a so-called ‘summary offence’,  which means it is heard in a magistrates court, and this process is ‘time barred by the statute of limitations’.  This means that any offence heard in front of a magistrate must have been committed within the last 6 months.  If illegal stocking has occurred there is every chance that this was over 6 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.”

 

It is 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 these people in confidence and can be contacted on 01568 620447. 

 

At the meeting it was revealed that of the 2003 and 2004 KHV cases, 7 out of the 10 fisheries had re-stocked with native carp and had not had any further mortalities.  This provides a ray of hope for any fisheries who have been unfortunate enough to be struck by the deadly virus in 2006

 

In the rest of an informative meeting for members, Ian Boden, a full time angling coach, gave an interesting 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. 

 

Along with keeping membership 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 from the trade’s point of view it is much better to recruit new anglers in the spring.

 

  1. The PCFA is a not-for-profit organisation which protects and promotes the interests of commercial coarse fisheries. More than 50 fisheries are in membership, including some of the largest complexes.

 

  1. The PCFA is a founder member of the national umbrella organisation, the Fisheries & Angling Conservation Trust (FACT), which takes political action on behalf of the sport.

 

  1. PCFA membership costs just £75 per year. A full list of benefits can be found on www.pcfa.co.uk.

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