Fish and Fishery Safety – Our Fishing Responsibility

Fish and Fishery Safety – Our Fishing Responsibility

Without doubt, one of the worst things I have seen as an angler and fishery owner was a major fish kill we suffered at a fishery I once owned in Dorset. Though this happened nearly twenty years ago, it certainly had a profound effect on me and definitely shaped the way I look at fish and fishery safety.

There are lots of elements for us to consider and appreciate here as Ambassadors to the environment in which we fish, but the first for me has to be biosecurity. There are many unknowns within fish diseases because there is little research, unfortunately, but one disease that is recognised is Koi herpesvirus (KHV) and it is deadly.

Each year we see more and more cases, and its effects are devastating.

So, what as responsible anglers can we do against a viral disease that can have up to 100% mortality rate and there is currently no treatment to combat against it? KHV is highly contagious and one way it is spread is through infected fish coming into contact with certain angling paraphernalia, ironically some of this being designed for fish safety!

In particular, I especially mean the following products; keepnets, weigh slings, retention slings, cradles, unhooking mats and landing nets. In essence, anything that an infected fish may come into contact with and where the transfer of the disease can then be taken to another fishery, thus spreading the disease.

The only true way to ensure best practice against is to completely air dry this type of kit, preferably in sunlight, but with our weather that can sometimes be a challenge! It has been proven that this disease can live for long periods within damp kit and then be spread, so to fail to take this simple precaution would be extremely reckless.

Having seen the consequences of a large fish kill, up close and personal, was a terrible thing, not just for my business but for the poor fish to have suffered so terribly, yet by drying out the mentioned products can be all that is needed to prevent this from happening.

Proactive bio security is a key defence to the spreading of any disease, so please act responsibly here. For more information on KHV, check out the following link:

Another area under bio security comes with illegal fish transfers and this includes taking live baits from one venue to another when predator fishing. We have seen too many cases of pathetic individuals out to make a quick buck who have stolen fish from Europe (especially large carp) who then sell them to fisheries in the UK and within weeks their illegal actions have resulted in massive fish deaths.

There is no quicker way to spread disease than take a fish hosting a disease into another water. Some diseases, unlike KHV which only infects carp, can infect the whole biomass and again result in a huge death toll and, for the fishery, a complete loss of business.

There is absolutely no winners here and anyone who is prepared to take such risks are an affront to good angling practices.

As already mentioned, there is a plethora of kit on the market that is designed to assist in the safe landing and holding of fish and we should all be prepared to invest in such to protect our quarry. Yes, there is an expense here but this type of kit is a must in the modern angling scene and does not need to cost the earth, as long as it does the job required.

Two products that are a ‘must’ are a good strong landing net big enough for the species you are aiming to catch, as well as a decent quality unhooking mat.

Always place your unhooking mat in a safe position as close to your swim as possible so when you transfer the fish you won’t have far to travel, and whilst being transferred always ensure to support the weight of the fish.

Make sure that the mat is already wet and you have a bucket of water to hand to both keep the mat and fish wet. If you are taking a picture, do so as quickly as possible so that you are not keeping the fish out of the water for too long. I always have everything set up in my swim prior to casting out, so all of these eventualities are covered and I only then need to concentrate on the fish and its safety.

One thing you will undoubtedly come across at some stage will be some type of damage to the fish you have caught. It maybe anything from a natural ulceration through to a lifted scale or mouth damage and surely we should, therefore, be looking at giving some form of treatment if we can? Again, and it can only be a good thing, we are seeing more fish care products for such on the market, but I tend to stick to a Koi Carp care brand call NT Labs ( They really know their stuff when it comes to fish care and their site makes interesting and informative reading, as well as pointing you in the direction of some excellent products to treat fish.

My go to products from NT Labs is their Ulcer Swab and a product called Propolis – both are always to hand whenever I go fishing.

Though I have only scratched the surface on this hugely important topic, I will finish off with a bit more detail on Propolis as it is really interesting and, yet again, another example of nature helping nature. Propolis is a form of resinous compound produced by bees and forms an insoluble coating over a wound which then stops pathogens (micro-organisms that can cause disease) from entering the wound. Personally I use the Ulcer Swab in the first instance and then cover off with the Propolis so I am treating the wound and then protecting it, almost like putting a plaster over the area of concern. Have a read up on line about Propolis and how bees produce it and use it in their hives – incredible stuff, but isn’t nature always such!

Fish and fishery safety are a must for anglers and there is a vast amount of content now written on-line, but do always check in with your fishery to ensure you are doing what is best. And last, but not least, please, please do ensure to dry those nets and mats as it really is a must!

As always, if you have any questions on this, or any other topic, always feel free to e-mail me at:

Until next time, stay safe and enjoy your fishing.

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  • Peter benham Reply

    Where can I buy your bait and tackle in Hertfordshire??

    4th February 2020 at 8:28 am

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