33 fish farms across Yorkshire are this week struggling for survival after another Countryside v Defra clash.
Disease threatens Dales fish farms
The region's multi million pound industry is on its knees after an outbreak of Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (VHS) which is likely to endanger the industry to an even greater extent than the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. In this case, restrictions prevent trade and movement for 2 - 4 years and NO compensation is on offer to help the effected businesses.
The restrictions in place currently prohibit any trade or movement of fish on the Ouse, Wharfe, Aire and Derwent - an area below the upper tidal limit and away from the infected Nidd based fish farm. The infected farm at Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate has culled its stock and the disease has failed to spread any further. It is not treatable and has no implications for human health.
Scared of another political/agricultural fiasco, DEFRA are pulling out all the stops to prevent the spread of VHS. But by being so fervent in it's zoning, many farms will be needlessly closed, hundreds of jobs lost and a massive animal welfare issue caused.
It's a race against time, Defra must either ease the restrictions or offer a full a package for the farmers involved. Fish may not be cute and cuddly like lambs and sheep, but millions of dead fish rotting in the sun would be one of the most shameful animal rights issues this country has ever seen
Jonny Jowett - Fish Farm owner
Jonny Jowett, from Hebden is the owner of four fish farms in Yorkshire which he has developed over the last 25 years. "The injustice of this situation is heartbreaking. There is absolutely no help on offer to these threatened farms. We will all be facing a situation where we have previously healthy fish suffering unnecessarily with no financial assistance to keep the farms up and running."
Already, mortality levels are increasing as a result of fish not being moved on properly and it is expected that the fish will die within a fortnight. Bankruptcy faces many farms as a result of the over zealous restrictions on an area which has been given the all clear.
Mr Jowett fears "It's a race against time, Defra must either ease the restrictions or offer a full a package for the farmers involved. Fish may not be cute and cuddly like lambs and sheep, but millions of dead fish rotting in the sun would be one of the most shameful animal rights issues this country has ever seen"
Kilnsey Trout Farm as a public farm is not included in these restrictions and remains open for visitors.