Reading West M.P Martin Salter, who is also Labour’s Parliamentary Spokesman for Angling has today secured an assurance from the government that the deadly Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) is to be designated a notifiable disease.


This follows at least six outbreaks of KHV in recent weeks in fisheries in the South, East and Midlands. KHV is one of the most lethal viruses with recorded mortality rates of up to 98%. The increase in fish movements to provide stock for both angling and ornamental ponds and lakes has made it more likely that KHV could be spread widely across the U.K. with devastating consequences for anglers, fish farmers, and fishery owners.


Martin Salter raised the issue in the Commons at DEFRA questions and linked the proposed cut of £400,000 in the Environment Agency fisheries budget to the need to take action to try and prevent the spread of the KHV virus.


In his question Martin Salter said:


“The Minister will be aware that this wholly unwelcome cut of £400,000 in the Fisheries budget threatens to adversely affect the ability of the Environment Agency to combat the spread of lethal fish diseases such as the Koi Herpes Virus, several outbreaks of which have recently occurred in the U.K.


On behalf of Britain’s 3.5 million anglers can I ask him what action does he propose to take to halt the spread of K.H.V. which is the aquatic equivalent of foot and mouth disease?”


In reply Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw acknowledged the serious threat posed by the virus and confirmed for the first time that the government intends to make KHV a notifiable disease. This will require fishery owners to report suspected KHV mortalities in their waters.


Martin Salter said:


“I’m delighted that Ben Bradshaw has listened to Britain’s anglers and in particular to organisations such as the English Carp Heritage Organisation (ECHO) who have been lobbying for KHV to be added to the list of notifiable fish diseases. This was an issue raised at the recent Angling Summit that I held in the House of Commons and shows the value of bringing together organisations representing Britain’s 3.5million anglers and giving them direct access to government ministers. KHV is a lethal threat to carp stocks the length and breadth of the country and if it was to become widespread the pleasure of millions and the livelihoods of many would be ruined.”


The announcement was welcomed by both ECHO and the Fisheries Angling Conservation Trust (FACT).


A representative from ECHO said:


“KHV is potentially the biggest threat to our country’s carp stocks in recent times. ECHO has worked for numerous years to highlight this deadly disease among fisheries and the angling world.


The impact of this virus on the industry could be huge and the news that it is to be made notifiable is a giant step forward in maintaining our fisheries health status.


We urge all relevant government agencies to achieve the notifiable status of KHV in as short a timescale as is humanly possible”.