A Paddock Wood councillor has been forced to find a new watery home for dozens of ornamental fish after the Environment Agency ‘ridiculously’ ruled they cannot be returned to the town’s pond.
As reported by the Times last month, the pond at Putlands was to be dredged, and the town council planned to register it as a fishery and gain a permit allowing the goldfish and koi carp that lived there to return to the water afterwards.
But although the council successfully reclassified the pond, the EA has refused to allow the non-indigenous fish to be returned along with the native rud, roach and perch.
Work started on Monday. Contractors Mid Kent Fisheries had promised to hold the koi carp and goldfish in stock ponds until a solution was found, but Cllr Robert Turk, concerned for their future, has waded in.
He said: “I’ve found people with ponds willing to take them, where these fish will be safely looked after. It’s a bit awkward as the people taking them don’t want other people to know about it.
“It doesn’t make much sense to me that we’re in this position, as the fish were perfectly happy in the Putlands pond. However, the Environment Agency doesn’t want non-indigenous fish getting into the watercourses.
“But they wouldn’t send someone out to visit the pond. For the fish to get out they would have to go through the outlet pipe, through the surface water system, if there was even enough water flowing, swim through the sewage system, the sewage farm, and out the other side into the river Medway.
“The chance of that happening is absolutely zero. It’s rather ridiculous as, at the end of day, most fish get transferred from one place to another by eggs on birds, so why don’t we shoot all the birds?”
The town council must notify the EA if any species not specified are released into the water. The common carp can be re-introduced on the condition a screen is installed over the outlet pipe.
Cllr Turk said: “They say we can put the carp back in if we fit a grille to stop them leaving. If we can do that, why can’t we put the others back?
“Unfortunately you can’t talk to anyone sensible at the Environment Agency.”
An EA spokesman said: “The Environment Agency does not allow stocking of non-native fish in waters deemed unsuitable.
“In this case, these fish are likely to have been unwanted pets and we only allow such fish to live in fully enclosed waters where there is no risk of escaping.
“The pond in question is connected to a river system where fish can escape.
“People may think that they are being kind to non-native fish by releasing them into watercourses, but they can cause major damage.
“Non-native cyprinids, especially goldfish, are known vectors of parasites and diseases (most notably koi herpes virus) which could affect many native fish.
“However, the fish in the lake could be re-homed as long as a suitable water body is used.”