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End of disease restrictions for some Yorkshire Dales fish farms

[Thursday 10 August 2006]

FISH farmers across some parts of the Yorkshire Dales are celebrating the lifting of movement restrictions following an announcement from Defra this morning - though the waiting continues for many others.

Fish farms along the Wharfe breathe a sigh of relief as
restrictions are eased

The Rural Affairs Department announced earlier today that they were re-defining the area covered by restrictions which were put in place following the discovery in June of Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS) in fish at a Trout farm in Nidderdale.

Fish farmers based along the River Wharfe, Aire and Rye are breathing a sigh of relief as they will now be able to trade as normal.

"This is a great relief for them," said the CLA's regional director, Dorothy Fairburn.

"They have not been able to move live fish since the restrictions came into place at the beginning of June.

"This has had a disastrous effect on their business's cash flow and serious welfare implications with overcrowding of fish, particularly during the recent heat waves. We have been pressing Defra to complete their tests and paperwork as quickly as feasible as the risk of farms going out of business was very high."

Fish farmers on the River Swale, Ure, Nidd and Ouse are still covered by the movement restrictions and will be unable to sell live fish outside their river system. It is feared that these controls may be in force for up to four years.

Thousands of fish have died from overcrowding during the hot weather

Mike O'Donnell - Fish farm owner

Mike O'Donnell, Chairman of the newly reformed Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Fish Farmers Association, who has a fish farm near Pickering, was delighted to hear the news.

"It has been a long wait," he said.

"The impact on my business has been dreadful. We have been feeding fish without knowing that we would ever be able to sell them. Thousands of fish have died from overcrowding during the hot weather. I am extremely grateful to the CLA for all the assistance that they have given us, particularly when dealing with Defra."

Yorkshire produces an estimated 50% of all the UK's re-stocking trout and 20% of trout for the table, and as such is a critical part of the region's rural economy.

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