INSPECTORS from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas) were called in to support HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers based at Coquelles, near Calais, France, when they stopped a consignment of fish at the Eurotunnel on December 9.

As part of the operation, the HMRC officers detained a van containing 45 live carp – each weighing between 20 and 35 pounds, which were being imported into the UK from France last Sunday afternoon.

Fish Health Inspectors (FHIs), based at Cefas, interviewed the driver on his arrival at Folkestone, Kent. He was found to be attempting to import live fish without any fish health certification, which is legally required under the Fish Health Regulations 1997.

As the driver was unable to produce the required fish health certificate, the fish were confiscated and humanely slaughtered to prevent the potential spread of disease to UK waters. Samples taken from the consignment are being examined at the Cefas laboratory in Weymouth, Dorset. The FHI checks that such fish do not carry diseases that could seriously impact on the health of native fish.

Four agencies were involved in Sunday’s successful operation. Besides HMRC officers at Coquelles and the Fish Health Inspectors, Kent Police at Longport and Animal Health Inspectors from Dover also lent their assistance. This is the third occasion in recent months that live carp imports, without the appropriate certification, have been intercepted in multi-agency operations.

Stephen Maidment, a FHI enforcement officer, commented: “This was good work by HM Revenue and Customs, who called us in to investigate the matter.”

He continued: “It only takes one consignment of diseased fish to bring about widespread mortalities at fisheries across the country. This operation once again illustrates how government agencies have progressed in their efforts to prevent illegal live fish imports.”

A man from Erith, Kent, has been reported for the offence of introducing into Great Britain live fish, namely Cyprinus Carpio (carp), when they were not accompanied by valid movement documents (ie, a health certificate) contrary to Regs11(1) of the Fish Health Regulations 1997. The matter is likely to be considered by magistrates in the New Year.