Wild Carp Trust sets its conservation strategy

2 December 2020

Following extensive consultation with The Environment Agency, The Institute of Fisheries Management, and several eminent fishery management consultants (including Wild Carp Trust Vice-President Dr Bruno Broughton), the Wild Carp Trust has decided upon its conservation strategy.

The Wild Carp Trust will, in parallel to helping fish in the wild (through habitat improvement and increasing awareness of their value amongst anglers and landowners), adopt what is known as an ‘Ark Project’ approach to conservation.

Taking inspiration from The Avon Roach Project, which seeks minimal disturbance to adult fish in the wild but maximum fish entered into the conservation programme, the Wild Carp Trust will take only eggs and fry from the carps’ home waters and grow these fish on in dedicated facilities until such time as they can be introduced to conservation pools or, should something tragic happen to their donor water, be reintroduced to the water from where they came.

Wild Carp Trust chair of trustees, Fennel Hudson, said: “It’s obvious, really, that the best way to secure back-up stocks of our oldest strains of carp is to take eggs and fry from the wild and put them in self-contained facilities where they can be grown on. This defers the need to kill fish for health checks prior to moving them to new waters. (In the UK, it is a requirement to kill 30 fish and have them tested for disease and parasites before permission is granted for them to be stocked into a new water. This is much easier to accept when thousands of eggs are spawned, rather than decimating a water of its older fish – especially when that water may not have 30 fish in it to begin with.) Besides, it is usual for more than 90% of fish eggs and young fry to perish in the wild anyway (they succumb to fungal infection or get eaten by insects, fish and other predators), so any fish we can grow from eggs, or on from fry, will be a bonus. We’ll be able to conserve the highest number of fish, with lowest impact to their parent population.”

The Wild Carp Trust’s primary conservation goal, separate to ensuring strains of heritage carp continue to thrive in the wild, is to ensure that specific strains of wild and feral carp are preserved in living gene banks (conservation pools). Each strain will be housed independently, to ensure it remains pure. Separate breeding facilities, stock ponds and conservation pools will ensure minimal risk of cross contamination of the gene pools. It is expected that once these fish are settled in their conservation pools, they will continue to breed and that their offspring will be used to stock new ‘wildie’ waters (those not containing any other type of carp) and thus further increasing the population and reducing the risk of the strain being wiped out.