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Fish'n'microchip on the menu in Horsham
A DIFFERENT kind of fish and chips is on the menu at an angling club in Horsham.
Bosses at Horsham and District Angling Association suspected fishy goings on when their 700-strong collection of Common and Mirror carp seemed to be reducing in numbers and decided to microchip each individual fish to track their whereabouts.
The fish, which are sometimes worth in excess of £1,000 each, are a popular choice for fishing fans – and thieves – across the country.
Ian Petch, Secretary of the Horsham and District Angling Association, said: “Basically we established they were being stolen. A 20lb carp is worth about £1,000 so if you steal ten, that’s ten grand.
“Previously the fish were only identifiable with photographic records. We noticed a few hadn’t been seen in a while and assumed they were dead.
“We then established they weren’t dead. They were alive, just not in our lake. If anything happens in the future, microchipping is a way of getting our fish back and prosecuting if necessary.”
The carp are a popular target for thieves as they can be easily sold on to other lake owners and have a lifespan of up to 65 years.
Increasingly they are being targeted as a food source by members of the Eastern European community for whom carp is a delicacy.
In Poland a carp for Christmas dinner is the equivalent of a turkey in England.
Mr Petch said: “I once found a harpooned carp on a barbecue beside a lake. They don’t know it’s wrong. They come from Romania and Poland where there’s no licensing or ownership of fish. There’s nothing you can do unless you catch them in the act.
“Other people steal them to stock their own lakes on the cheap. It’s greed. The problem is if you take a carp from one lake to another, you can kill the entire shoal of carp in the new lake due to parasites and disease.”
Mr Petch and his colleagues acquired the help of Chips 4 Fish, a fish security company specialising in micro-chipping specimen freshwater fish.
They started microchipping some of their prize collection earlier this month and plan to finish the project by the end of the winter.
Each individual fish is caught and anasthetised before being injected with the chip and returned to the lake.
When staff want to check on the welfare of the carp, they place an electronic scanner in the lake which tells them how many fish there are.
Charles Bacchus, Fishery Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency, said: “Once a fish has been stolen and moved to a different location, the microchip can prove beyond doubt that this is the case, enabling prosecution and return of the fish to its previous owner.
“In the case of Horsham and District Angling Association, we helped support the training on the equipment for microchipping. It’s something we would recommend for any fishery worried about theft.”