'Complete madness': Anglers say barriers will wipe out Broads fishing
PUBLISHED: 13:07 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:42 22 January 2020
Fishing enthusiasts have warned temporary barriers on a private broad would be catastrophic and devastate the fish population.
Concerns have been raised at the start of a 20-day Environment Agency public consultation to introduce three fish barriers to isolate Hoveton Great Broad from the River Bure.
The Natural England-led project proposes to remove the majority of fish from the broad, known as biomanipulation, for 10 years which will allow water fleas to thrive who will then feed on the algae, thereby cleaning the water.
Fishing experts are worried the move will reduce the bream population as they claim the broad is a unique habitat which is perfect for the species to breed in. Other fish including roach, perch and carp also breed in the broad.
John Currie, general secretary for the Pike Anglers' Club of Great Britain, said: "It is a disaster waiting to happen. It is complete madness. The knock-on effect would be catastrophic for the eco-system."
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Stephen Roberts, chairman of the Norwich and District Pike Club, said: "It will totally devastate the fishing industry on the Norfolk Broads. Similar projects have been done in different broads before but never on a broad attached to a river. If you kill the bream off that is going to be the end of them.
"The reeds, conditions and depth on Hoveton Great Broad are all perfect for the bream. It is the best broad. It does not need improving. It is a unique broad.
"People come from all over the country for bream fishing. It is a massive part of the Broads tourism industry."
Mr Currie added fishing tourism brought in £12m each year to the Broads.
The fish barrier project would "improve the ecological condition of this designated broad", according to the consultation which ends on February 17.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We have actively conducted significant research for this project and we are aware of the findings that greatly contribute to the understanding of the behaviour of Broadland fish populations. This consultation is to allow the public to express their views on the project before a final decision is made."
A Natural England spokesman said: "The Broads are an iconic feature of the English landscape, and we are working hard to nurture and improve these vital habitats by driving biodiversity and improving water quality.
"As part of this work, we are exploring options such as a project to temporarily exclude fish, to deliver a more natural ecology, including a more diverse fish community which is more resilient to any climate change impacts."
To comment on the consultation click here.