A DEADLY fish disease has struck in the New Forest forcing the closure of several angling hot spots.
Orchard Lakes, near New Milton, was confirmed last Wednesday as suffering the Koi herpesvirus (KHV) disease which has been blighting watercourses around the UK since July. It has been closed while the infection is cleared.
Broadlands Lake Fisheries, in Calmore near Totton, was the next to be reported the following Friday. It shut entirely for 16 days before opening up only its unaffected lower lakes last week.
On the advice of the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission said fishing has also been suspended as a precaution at the popular Hatchet Pond, at East Boldre near Beaulieu.
An FC spokesperson said: “As the land managers, the Forestry Commission has put up temporary signage asking people not to fish here and notified outlets where fishing permits are sold.”
“We will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency and observe their guidance in order to limit the spread of the outbreak.”
Although no danger to humans, the illness is mostly lethal to all varieties of common and ornamental carp and can result in large-scale deaths.
The virus is spread between fish through contact and can be passed to other locations by infected nets or moving sick stock.
Debbie Beale, who co-owns Broadlands with her husband Peter, said they had partially reopened under strict disinfection controls only with the backing of the Environment Agency and the government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.
Although the fish were recovering, a sustained cold spell and rain was needed to deactivate the KHV, she said, adding: “As a business, there’s no money coming in. We’re at a standstill at the moment.”
Jim Southcombe is the owner of Orchard Lakes, set within 56 acres of farmland off New Lane in Bashley and which bills itself as one of the most prolific fisheries in the south.
He believed the outbreak of the disease, which can lay dormant for years, could be due to stress factors for the fish such as the low water levels experienced during this year’s hot, dry summer.
Only one lake had been affected and Mr Southcombe hoped to reopen in a few weeks once the symptoms had passed.
He said: “It’s not too bad because the fishing quietens down this time of year. It could have been much worse.”
The presence of the listed disease, which by law must be reported, was confirmed at Orchard Lakes and Broadlands Lake Fisheries by the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI).
Infected specimens display white or brown patches on the gills, rough patches on the skin and sloughing mucous, and sunken eyes.
When laboratory testing confirms KHV disease at a site, statutory controls are imposed to limit the spread of the disease, including restricting movement of aquatic animals and ensuring equipment is disinfected. A year’s monitoring programme follows.