THE chairman of the English Carp Heritage Organisation, has given an impassioned talk to Government representatives about the dangers of illegal fish imports and the associated spread of disease.

Ian ‘Chillie’ Chilcott was accompanied by ECHO committee member Viv Shears of RMC Angling at the meeting with government scientists and fish health inspectors at their CEFAS laboratories in Weymouth. Representative from the Environment Agency were also present.
In a ‘no holds barred’ session Ian made an impassioned appeal on behalf of anglers for all of the various government and non-government agencies involved in fish and fisheries to work together to protect the heritage of English carp and other species for future generations.

He gave the angler’s perspective on the dangers of importing diseased fish from abroad and illustrated the possible consequences of a widespread disease outbreak on the sport, and on those with an interest in it.
He stressed the need for more research to be carried out to obtain a clearer understanding of how to identify and prevent the various forms of fish disease.

“Fish identification is another important area for research,” said Ian. “We have come an awful long way in the past two years. But it’s widely accepted by the vast majority of anglers who care about fish that things have still got to change.

“We’ve got to care more about these beautiful creatures and protect them, if we are to keep them for future generations. The way fish are being moved about all over the continent, and then put in large numbers into puddles over here where they can be caught time and time again is wrong – we all know its wrong. It should be about more than just money.”
In his response, the head of the CEFAS inspectorate Eric Hudson, thanked ECHO for the tremendous boost which CEFAS had received from the organisation, and from the popular fishing Press, in its attempts to combat illegal imports of live fish.

He agreed that it was only when everyone worked together that problems are overcome. He went on to say that much progress had been made in this area but that there was much still to do. He said CEFAS would be very keen to develop a research programme with ECHO once the subject areas are identified. He added that work was already underway at the laboratory on a number of projects which may help in some of the areas which had been discussed.
After hearing a talk on the work of the CEFAS inspectorate, Ian and Viv were shown around the laboratory and spoke enthusiastically to various scientists who are currently involved in fish disease research and development projects.

All were keen to involve themselves in new and developing areas of research work, particularly on practical projects aimed at the long-term protection of our fish and the environment.
“It’s been an eye-opener for us” said Viv. “The facilities here are fabulous, and the keenness of everyone we spoke to was good to see. They’re as keen as we are to find solutions. I’m very encouraged.”