THE Canal and Rivers Trust have been criticised for letting zander that need to be removed to suffocate a slow, lingering death.

An eye-witness was appalled after the zander on the Trent And Mersey Canal near Trentham in Staffordshire were firstly put into an aerated tank but then just chucked into bags.

Local Angler’s Mail reader Mike Waters said: “I went along to observe because I had concerns about the effect this action would have on the pike, perch, frogs, toads and newts that are spawning at this time of year.

“I was reassured that the process would have no lasting effects and the fish would recover quickly which I must admit seemed to be correct.

“I can confirm 18 zander were caught on day one and 12 on day two and there were plenty of pike, perch, bream, roach, odd chub and carp spread out throughout the system.

“The lads that did the electro fishing were professional and very informative and the only thing I found disturbing was what they did with the zander at the end.

“After stunning them in the canal then caught in a net and transferred to a well aerated tank on the boat left to recover.

“When the lads returned to the slipway, they transferred the fish into a dry weigh sling and threw them onto the back of pick-up truck to die a slow and cruel death.

“Surely it would have been better to dispatch them with a priest as you would trout while the fish were stunned?” he concluded.

Zander removed as ‘non-native’

National fisheries manager for the CRT, John Ellis, revealed the zander have to be removed by law as they are a non-native species.

John said: “Some people might not like it but when we net fish like zander they are often sold onto the catering industry and they like them as fresh as possible.

“We have in the past sold fish in larger numbers on to Billingsgate Fish Market, but these would have gone to a local restaurant.

“Basically the only other alternative is to incinerate them, and as they have to die I would prefer them to go to some productive use being consumed as food.

“Transferring them to a stillwater is not a realistic option as the owners are required to have a licence allowing them to be kept and these are few and far between.

“Bury Hill in Surrey is one of the few but they limit the numbers they will take and the fishery is a long way from here.

“The fish were reasonably small, up to a maximum of 3 lb. There is no doubt that they were illegally stocked into the canal a few years back as they were only in one stretch away from any other likely naturally occurring source.

“There is conclusive research evidence that zander are particularly suited to slow moving waters with a lot of boat use as they are well adapted to the low visibility, and they are a clear menace to the welfare of such a fishery.

“First to go are the gudgeon for which they seem to have a particular liking, followed by small roach, and fish under 10 cm are particularly at risk, with whole stocks in danger of being wiped out.

“Zander must be removed from all waters where they are found, particularly in new waters where they are discovered in order to stop their spread,” he concluded.

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