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LOCAL anglers say they are concerned for the welfare of fish after seeing men catching fish with electric nets in Diglis basin.
Chris Stubbs from Worcester said he spotted the men in boats fishing for a non-native species - Zander - with electric nets on Friday morning.
However, the Canal and River Trust says it's the practice is harmless - and authorised by the Environment Agency.
Mr Stubbs said: “They were not wearing face masks or protective PPE for a start. I could see dead fish floating on the surface after electrocution. They have been using this process for year to remove Zander, a non-native species, but with little success and thousands of harmed fish in the process.
“They remove the bigger fish and sell them to fish markets for the dinner table. As fishermen we have been trying to get this process stopped for the safety of the fish and the sport.”
The Canal and River Trust says ‘the process of electro fishing may look strange, but it causes no harm to the fish.’ John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager at the trust, said: “The process of electro fishing may look strange, but it causes no harm to the fish.
“An electrical current is passed through the water to temporarily stun the fish so they can be netted and safely removed. This process, which is authorised and regulated by the Environment Agency, is carried out to remove non-native fish, such as Zander, from our canals. The removal of certain non-native invasive fish from our inland waterways is a legal requirement under the Keeping and Introduction of Fish Regulations 2015.
“Once removed, as set out in Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, they cannot currently be legally put back, either by ourselves or indeed by individual anglers into our canals and rivers. The fish are either humanely destroyed or used as food, which we consider to be a greener alternative to landfill.”
Mark Powell-Bevan spokesman for The Zander Anglers Club UK argues the practice is 'barbaric and fruitless.'
He said: "Zander have resided in the UK since they were legally introduced in 1878. Every Zander in the UK now still originates from those fish. The label non-native is given to any flora or fauna by Natural England to anything that has resided in the UK for less than 1000 years. So for instance carp and even potatoes fit this category. Zander are not culled or electro-fished for anywhere else in the UK other than the Midland Canals controlled by The Canal and River Trust.
"Zander have resided in our canals since 1974 and since 1978 have been culled regularly despite the fact that they thrive on culling! It has been proven that where no electro-fish culling takes place the predator prey ratio balances out within a few years leaving just a few large Zander.
"These waters that have established a good natural predator prey balance also have incredible large stocks of silver fish of all sizes so all angling types can have a pleasurable days fishing side by side.
"In contrast the canals that have been regularly electro-fished since 1978 have a very poor fish biomass and have very little or no use to any angling types.
"But still The Canal and River Trust insist on wasting trust money on this barbaric fruitless exercise."
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