Britain’s only freshwater aquarium, The Aquarium of the Lakes, based near Newby Bridge in Cumbria, is supporting the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust’s decision to distribute road-sign style posters to help prevent the theft of carp and pike from Britain’s lakes.
The posters have been designed by angling organisation CEMEX, following concerns that Eastern European immigrants are failing to follow British angling rules, by taking their catch home to eat, rather than putting it back into the water.
These worries are increasing, because carp and pike are part of the traditional Christmas meal in Poland. There are also fewer anglers out on the water at this time of year, to report the rule breaking.
To assist the campaign to protect these fish, The Aquarium of the Lakes is putting the CEMEX posters up inside the attraction, so visitors can be aware that these fish are to be cherished and not char-grilled.
Its talks team will also be building information on the protection of carp into their regular talks programme.
The Aquarium of the Lakes is home to pike and three types of carp: Crucian, Common and Mirror. Crucian carp have been living in UK waters for about 300 years, whilst the Common carp was introduced to Europe from Asia, in the Middle Ages. It was originally cultivated in the ponds of Asian monasteries. Mirror carp are a domesticated variety of the fish and may live up to 50 years.
These huge fish, which can grow up to 120 cm in length in the case of the Common carp, are wonderful to observe – one reason why the Aquarium of the Lakes has a stunning underwater viewing tunnel from which visitors can see the huge carp up close.
Aquarium of the Lakes spokesperson, Katherine Beaumont, says: “We fully support this initiative and recognise that people who have recently arrived in the Lake District may not be aware of the rules relating to the protection of carp.
“It is a typical case of a clash of cultures. In some countries carp are a traditional Christmas dinner, so they will be coveted prizes to take home in a net. Although the Environment Agency has signs in 19 different languages, the CEMEX posters make it perfectly clear what we will not allow to happen, so there can be no way the rules are lost in translation.
“The Aquarium of the Lakes recognises the importance of carp to the Lake District as a destination. We encourage these wonderful fish to grow to a magnificent size and they are part of our tourism offering, helping to fund our beautiful National Park. Carp fishing is a sport practised by many, but it has to be monitored, to help protect this species.”
The Aquarium of the Lakes will be open throughout the winter to support the anti-theft campaign. Ironically, it had already planned a ‘Fishing for Clues’ mystery competition, for budding young detectives, from December to February. With so many anglers and youngsters now aware of the case of fish theft, knowing Whodunnit might take on a whole new meaning.