Fishing at Manea Pit is halted after at least 18 dead carp have been found with fears they have been infected with disease possibly from contaminated fishing equipment

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams.

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Fishing has been banned at Manea pit as tests are carried out to discover what has been killing the carp stock.

Manea pit proposed fence,

Manea pit proposed fence, - Credit: Archant

At least 18 carp have washed up dead already but there are fears expressed by one fisherman that they are all “dead or dying”.

News that the fish have been hit by disease comes just two months after the parish council announced plans to install an otter fence costing thousands of pounds to protect them.

The fence divided the community with around 200 villagers packing a public meeting in May to try to halt the fence, which the council argued was essential to protect the carp stock - said to be worth around £90,000 - from otters.

The fence was later approved but parish clerk Terry Jordan confirmed the plans have not progressed as the council has yet to apply for an ‘otter mitigation licence’ from English Nature.

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams.

Manea Pit. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Monday night’s parish council meeting heard water tests by the Environment Agency found no signs that anything has been put into the water to kill the fish.

Mr Jordan said the suggestion therefore is the carp are suffering some sort of disease, possibly introduced to the water by contaminated fishing equipment.

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He said: “It is only the carp that have so far been affected. The dead fish appear to have some sort of mutations on them and there is a suggestion it could be a strain of carp herpes.

“Fishing has been stopped while the Environment Agency carry out further tests. If it turns out the carp are dying then the question of the fence may need to be looked at again.

“The carp syndicate brings in an income of £5,000 a year, but if there are no carp, there will likely be no carp syndicate, no income and therefore nothing to protect.”

He admitted the council were within a whisker of going ahead with the fence when the community heard of the plans in April and raised the issue of necessary permissions including from English Nature.

Mr Jordan said parish councillors are volunteers and do not always have the ‘necessary expertise’ and the fact the council was close to proceeding was done in good faith.

A licence application will need information about the impact the fence will have on otters from an ecologist. No otters have been seen in the pit but there are fears they could migrate there.