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Army of anglers fights Environment Agency over barrier to block fish from broad

PUBLISHED: 11:32 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 19 August 2020

A petition calling for the decision to install fish barriers at the entrance of a Norfolk Broad to be reversed has received more than 860 signatures.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A petition calling for the decision to install fish barriers at the entrance of a Norfolk Broad to be reversed has received more than 860 signatures. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Norfolk’s angling community is squaring up against the Environment Agency over its bid to put in a barrier blocking fish from one of the broads.

The Environment Agency has granted Natural England a permit to place fish barriers across the entrances to Hoveton Great Broad as part of a restoration project to improve the broads ecology..
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.The Environment Agency has granted Natural England a permit to place fish barriers across the entrances to Hoveton Great Broad as part of a restoration project to improve the broads ecology.. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

A petition launched by the Broads Angling Services Group (BASG), supported by the Angling Trust, calling for a decision to install fish barriers at the entrance to Hoveton Great Broad and Hudson’s Bay to be reversed has attracted more than 860 signatures.

The Environment Agency (EA) granted Natural England a permit to place fish barriers in July as part of a restoration project to improve the Broad’s ecology.

But angling, fishery and wildlife groups in the Broads have condemned the decision, which they say poses an “extremely serious threat to fish stocks”, especially bream and the wildlife which depends on them.

The Angling Trust has also written objections to the EA, Natural England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Environment Agency has granted Natural England a permit to place fish barriers across the entrances to Hoveton Great Broad as part of a restoration project to improve the broads ecology.. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.The Environment Agency has granted Natural England a permit to place fish barriers across the entrances to Hoveton Great Broad as part of a restoration project to improve the broads ecology.. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

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Martyn Page, author, BASG director and founder of Angling Direct, said: “The Broads have been famous for their bream since the 1800s but evidence shows that these are now threatened by the plans to close off their main spawning grounds on Hoveton Great Broad and as such potentially seriously endanger not only the Northern Broads Bream stocks but also pike (for which the Broads are also famous) as well as other fish eating birds and animals.”

He said the project would not go ahead if it denied salmon, birds or other animals access to spawning or breeding grounds, and said bream should be “afforded similar protection” and the project amended to allow them to spawn successfully.

An EA spokesperson said when making its decision to issue the Flood Risk Activity Permit, it had carefully considered all the evidence available, including evidence from the BASG, a public consultation and its own fisheries officers’ advice.

Angling Direct co-founder Martyn Page. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAngling Direct co-founder Martyn Page. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

They said: “We will do whatever we can through working with Natural England and anglers to monitor any impact on the wider Broadland fishery.

“Although we recognise there is a risk to the current fish populations that use Hoveton Great Broad, we do not conclude that it poses an ‘extremely serious threat’ to the wider Broadland fishery.”

The Natural England-led project proposes to remove the majority of fish from the broad for 10 years which will allow water fleas to thrive who will then feed on the algae, thereby cleaning the water.


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