EFTTA DEMANDS ACTION OVER SNAKEHEAD FISH AFTER KILLER SPECIES IS CAUGHT IN UK

EFTTA will be represented at a significant meeting next week in Brussels to discuss invasive non-native species – which comes days after a deadly ‘Snakehead’ fish was caught in a British river.

The giant snakehead comes from south east Asia. But the capture of one on the River Witham in Lincolnshire has sparked fears in the UK of an invasion of the species – which is a huge predator and can wipe out fish stocks if left unchecked.

Next week (March 10th) discussions are taking place to formulate an EU Framework on Invasive Alien Species. Dr Bruno Broughton of the European Anglers Alliance – who has been working closely with EFTTA lobbyist Jan Kappel on the issue of snakehead fish – will attend the meeting.

There is also an online survey, running until May 5th, which anglers and concerned companies can complete to share their views on the snakehead.

Jan Kappel asked the EU to implement an import ban on all 28 species of snakehead six years ago, but the then Commissioner for the Environment, Margot Wallström, refused.

Last week, Jan wrote to EU Environment Minister Stavros Dimas, again urging for EU action.

In 2002, a colony of Snakehead fish caused chaos in Maryland, USA.  Officials were forced to use poison to eradicate the fish because scientists feared that the snakeheads, which can wriggle short distances on land, could spread and devastate the Maryland ecosystem.

Snakeheads can reach 3 feet in length and devour smaller fish, frogs, birds and even small mammals.

Snakeheads are illegal in the UK, but angler Andy Alder caught one while using a sprat as bait for pike on the River Witham near North Hykeham, Lincolnshire.  

Experts who studied photos of Andy’s catch confirmed it was the predator which is on a list of species that cannot be imported into the UK.

It is feared the fish had been smuggled in for an aquarium and then illegally released.