Environment Agency Fisheries Officers this week uncovered a rogue catfish whilst doing a fisheries survey in Canterbury, Kent.

Catfish are non-native to the UK but are becoming more and more popular in recreational fisheries. They can pose a threat to the environment by competing with our native fish for food and habitat and spreading disease or parasites.

Howe Barracks is managed by Ministry of Defence staff. They are looking to establish an angling group on a lake on site and asked the Environment Agency for assistance to determine the fish population there so that they can ensure the fishery is managed in a sustainable way. The Environment Agency Fisheries Technical team in Kent spotted the channel catfish in the net whilst doing a survey of the lake at Howe Barracks in Canterbury on Monday 19 February 2007.

The keeping of non-native fish species is restricted under the Import of Live Fish Act (ILFA), administered by CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) because of the potential ecological threat. The Ministry of Defence staff did not know the species was present so there was no ILFA licence in place covering the keeping of this fish. It is likely the catfish was introduced by an angler who fishes the lake.

Fisheries officers removed the fish and passed it onto the Environment Agency’s National Fisheries Laboratory in Cambridgeshire.

Jon Whitmore, Fisheries Technical Team Leader in Kent, said: “Money generated from rod licence sales has enabled us to help the MOD make plans for the future of this lake. Non-native fish can pose a significant risk to the local environment so it was lucky that we found this fish when we did and were able to remove it from the pond. The staff managing this lake acted very responsibly. By working with us they have ensured that their lakes and the wider environment is protected. We urge others to do the same.”

Sgt David Handforth said ‘It is encouraging that the Environment Agency and the Ministry of Defence can work together in partnership, to help make this fishery available to anglers in the future.’

If you have any information on illegal fish movement, please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.