Anglers have launched a campaign to save some of Britain’s most historic pike fisheries, after it was revealed they are under threat from plans to abandon coastal defences which protect parts of the Norfolk Broads.
Proposals to allow the Upper Thurne system to be flooded by the sea have been discussed by the Broads Authority, Natural England and the Evironment Agency.
If they are put into action, the 2,500-strong Pike Anglers Club fears Horsey Mere, Hickling Broad, the Martham Broads and Heigham Sound will be lost forever within a generation.
Whole villages and thousands of acres of farmland will also be flooded or turned into salt marsh.
PAC president Phil Wakeford said: “In 2007, we warned that historically important fisheries and nature reserves were at risk from proposals to cut sea defence budgets. Our worst fears have now been confirmed.
“While the Upper Thurne system is a unique fishery which has produced some of the biggest wild pike ever landed in the world, it also contains internationally-important nature reserves which are of key importance to over-wintering wildfowl.
“A number of villages will also be abandoned if this plan is given the go-ahead. We understand other options, including maintaining sea defences, were also tabled but rejected.
“We have today launched an online petition as the first stage of a campaign to save the Thurne and its broads. We call upon anyone who loves this unique environment to join us in the fight to save it.”
Three record pike, each over 40lbs, were landed from the Thurne system, inspiring generations of pike anglers to visit Norfolk.
Pike fishing remains an important revenue earner for the county, along with bird watching.
The Pike Anglers Club has campaigned to protect the pike and pike fishing since it was formed in the Fens 30 years ago. Last year it helped villagers fight a successful campaign to save the Cambridgeshire Lodes.
The club has launched an online Save The Broads petition on the Ten Downing Street website. More information will be posted as we get it on www.pacgb.com