Leading fishery owners from throughout England and Wales are to meet in the Midlands to find out how angling could be affected if the Bird Flu virus arrives in Britain.
Concerned that angling could potentially be devastated by the effects of the virus, The Professional Coarse Fisheries Association has organised an Open Meeting for fishery owners at the West Midlands Golf Club on Wednesday, November 16.
It was originally planned to restrict attendance to PCFA members. However, the influential Association realises that the implications of Bird Flu could be so serious that the meeting should be open to any fishery owner who wishes to attend.
In addition to discussing the potential effects a Bird Flu epidemic could have on angling, the meeting will also discuss how recreational fisheries can better be protected if the virus does arrive in the UK.
The PCFA, which represents many of the most popular coarse fisheries in England and Wales, is concerned that fisheries could be badly hit if British bird flu is not quickly brought under control and eradicated.
PCFA Chairman Ann Freeman said: "A Bird Flu epidemic in the UK has the potential to cause devastation to fisheries even more damaging than the outbreak of foot and mouth disease a few years ago."
She added: “Fisheries attract large numbers of wild fowl, many of which are migratory and are highly likely to carry the disease. This means that huge numbers of people could stay away from angling. The effects would be even more damaging if the virus mutates into the human-to-human H5N1 strain.
"As fishery owners, we need to assess the potential effects of a Bird Flu epidemic on fisheries and on the sport of angling as a whole in the UK. Fishery owners should be considering now what plans they can make to alleviate the potential effects of the disease and protect their livelihoods."
The important meeting will be held at 10.30am on Wednesday, November 16 at the West Midlands Golf Club, Marsh House Farm Lane, Barston, Solihull B92 0LB. Entry is by ticket only and anyone interested in attending is asked to contact Ann Freeman at Tingrith Fishery, Tingrith, Bedfordshire on 01525 714012 or by e-mailing her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission to the meeting is £30 for non-PCFA members. The entry fee includes a sit-down lunch.