FEARS are growing about the possibility of a fish death pandemic this year in the UK after outbreaks of carp diseases.

Carp diseases in questions include a return to the fore of Spring Viraemia of Carp, which was thought to have been eradicated in the UK.

Alarms about SVC had diminished… until an outbreak that has been confirmed to have taken place  at Arden Lakes in Warwickshire last April.

Walthamstow Reservoirs in North London was then hit by the Carp Edema Virus another carp disease. Also known as  aka ‘Koi Sleepy Disease’ it resulted in the loss of valuable stocks.

The outbreak at Arden Lakes at Stratford-Upon-Avon was initially thought to be one of the other man carp diseases, Koi Herpes Virus. It was eventually confirmed as Spring Viraemia (SVC).

Fish health inspector Nick Stinton at the Fish Health Inspectorate, part of CEFAS, told Angler’s Mail: “We thought we had eradicated SVC from the UK, declaring us free of it back in 2009/10 so this outbreak (at Arden Lakes) came as a surprise.

“As its name implies, the disease mainly occurs in the spring as the weather warms but cases have also be known in the autumn.

“Although it mainly appears in carp it can affect other members of the cyprinid family.

“The fishery is back open with suitable preventative measures in place but it will be monitored for some time to come to make sure the disease is no longer present.

“Unfortunately we have not been able to trace the actual source of this outbreak,” he added.

Carp diseases reminder from Irish tragedy

Although no fish deaths have been reported in the UK as yet this year, the alert for carp diseases has risen in recent weeks.

Over in Ireland a high number of carp mortalities have already taken place at two waters in County Cork.

Worse affected by far was The Lough in the city of Cork, where over 750 carp perished, with some carp also found dead at Belvelly near Cobh.

Bill Brazier of Cork Carp Anglers said soon after the incidents: “Inland Fisheries Ireland staff were at the Lough for most of today removing dead fish with the aid of a boat, there were that many. Mixed ages and sizes.

“No other species dead to my knowledge, but the number of carp marked is horrific especially seeing as the first mortality is likely to have occurred less than a week ago although some fish clearly died several days before this before floating into the bank.

“Many more fish are still extremely lethargic and suffering from microscopic parasitic infection plus bacterial infections. Most are covered in excess mucus produced to try and counteract infections (white blotches). More dead fish are expected.

“The carp at Belvelly Lake are showing identical symptoms to but in my opinion the superior water quality in this lake may be delaying deaths and ill-health – just a guess on my part.

“A great many fish are very lethargic up near the surface, covered in white blotches. The situation is looking desperate there as well. Again, the fish were fine up until around a week ago.

“As yet no other signs confirmed from any other Irish waters, north or south to the very best of my knowledge Several other waters are now closed until further notice, notably Oaklands Fishery as a precaution,” Bill added.

Irish boffins on carp diseases case

Inland Fisheries Ireland have been investigating which of the killer carp diseases has hit two prime waters.

Sean Long, director of IFI South Western River Basin District, commented: “Angling has been suspended at both locations until further notice. There are no reports of fish health issues at any other carp fishery.

“As a precautionary measure we have temporarily suspended angling at nearby Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid coarse fisheries in order to reduce the risk of cross contamination. This will be reviewed once the cause of the mortalities is known.

“We would remind all anglers, and in particular those who may have fished the affected waters in the last number of weeks, to follow appropriate disinfection procedures for all gear and to comply with local notices and bio-security measures,” he concluded.

UPDATE: the cause of the Irish carp deaths has now been revealed. All sample fish tested positive for Carp Edema Virus, which first came to the fore last summer after striking some of the carp at London’s popular Walthamstow complex.

Updates on this and the status of the angling suspension are available at www.fisheriesireland.ie

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