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Fears £4m restoration of broad poses threat to bream breeding ground

PUBLISHED: 15:09 19 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 19 June 2019

Hoveton Great Broad, where Chris Bielby is the Hoveton Wetlands Restoration Project manager for Natural England.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Hoveton Great Broad, where Chris Bielby is the Hoveton Wetlands Restoration Project manager for Natural England. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

It's a major restoration project geared at bringing fresh, clear waters back to one of the county's lesser known Broads.

Concerns have been raised over spawning of bream in Great Hoveton Broad. Picture: Adrian JuddConcerns have been raised over spawning of bream in Great Hoveton Broad. Picture: Adrian Judd

However, a £4m drive to improve the water quality of Hoveton Great Broad has prompted concerns over the welfare of a particular breed of fish from anglers.

In a project led by Natural England, work is already under way to manage the waters of the broad, near Wroxham, to remove certain species and plants from the site to allow others to flourish - with dredging having been carried out.

One of the species being removed is bream, as part of a process known as biomanipulation. This process would see the fish leave the broad on their own accord, before a mesh barrier is put in place to prevent them from returning.

However, the Broads Angling Services Group has raised concerns that this could result in the loss of bream as a broads inhabitant completely.

Duncan Homes, director of the Broads Angling Services Group. Picture: Archant libraryDuncan Homes, director of the Broads Angling Services Group. Picture: Archant library

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Duncan Holmes, BASG director, said: "While we are widely in favour of the restoration of the Broad, preventing the bream from returning takes away an important spawning ground for them.

"While they do come and go as it is, Hoveton is where they spawn. The use of fish refuges to allow this, and the biomanipulation to happen would be favourable."

A spokesman for the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) said conversations were ongoing with the BASG to find a solution the issue.

They said: "We are trying to marry the expected conservation drivers for this project with the need to minimise disturbance to the fishery - the long term aim is to reinstate a stable fishery that was once prevalent throughout Broadland.

"Bream are a natural part of the Broadland fishery and are part of the expected wildlife in the system. We are simply resetting the environment to the best it can be, and the rest of the ecology will follow, including the fish community.

"It is clear Hoveton Great Broad has specific significance to bream - this poses a risk that we acknowledge and continue to work hard with anglers to better understand and plan to minimise this risk."

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