FISHERMEN are furious over the removal of carp from a New Forest pond in a bid to improve its water quality.
The work is being carried out at Hatchet Pond near East Boldre by the Forestry Commission which manages the site.
It says the water is under threat from changes to the delicate chemistry and its wildlife is significantly declining. It believes the carp to be the culprit.
Hatchet Pond is the largest body of fresh water within the Crown Lands of the New Forest and part of the wider Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Many local anglers gathered at the lake in protest at the netting which began on Tuesday and was scheduled to last three days.
Fisherman Matt Lockwood said: “There are some large carp in the lake that the anglers dearly love and some of these may be killed once caught, which is a massive shame.
“I’ve fished at Hatchet Pond for the last 30 years and I am really disappointed. I believe it’s happening because of advice from Natural England.”
Fellow fishermen Andy Gell added: “What they’re doing is totally outrageous. They are stopping carp fishing in the New Forest area and it’s such as shame. I have fished here since I was 10.
“I say 90% of the water clarity issues are caused by the wind blowing debris from the Forest down the lake causing undertow, it will never be clear.
“If they are going to remove the carp then they will have to remove the pike, tench and bream as well because they are all bottom feeders and feed the same way. Taking out the carp is just ridiculous.”
John Birtwell, chairman of Test Valley Angling Club said: “These fish have been in here all their lives. Some of them are 60-70 years of age and for them to be moved for what is perceived to be rare plants just makes me lost for words.”
A Forestry Commission spokesperson said: “It is an incredibly important place for wildlife and has been included as one of the Britain’s top 70 ponds due to the many rare and endangered species it supports.
“A total of 133 wetland plant species have been recorded here and it is home to 87% of the rarest wetland plants in the UK and early last year we began a comprehensive ecological assessment at the site.
“This included talking with those who use the pond: fishermen and local angling clubs, visitors using the car park, and dog walkers. These discussions have helped us develop a range of actions to help reverse the decline of the pond.
“Factors affecting the health of the water include activities of bottom feeding fish. Over the last few months we have been working with local anglers to complete a full survey of fish in the pond, and these include carp, tench, bream and pike.
“Our concern has only been with carp who have an extremely detrimental impact on the water quality due to their diet and the way they feed.
“Following the surveys we advised the anglers that the carp would be removed and this is now being done by specialist teams who will also rehome them.
“We will revisit this work on a regular basis to ensure the pond remains free of carp. Angling for other species at the pond is not affected by these measures and fishing will continue as usual.”