Monday, 21 January 2013

Fishery owner suing Environment Agency after otters put him out of business

Brian Dodson claims the government body created an otter haven on a nearby river and failed to inform him of the potential problems the furry mammals could cause.

After stocking six lakes at his new business with thousands of carp at a cost of £250,000, the protected otters sought out his fishery as a rich food source.

Over a period of years his valuable fish were decimated by the carnivorous creatures, ruining his business before it had got off the ground, the 60-year-old claims.

Mr Dodson said that had the Environment Agency told him of the probability of otters re-colonising the nearby river he could have taken protective steps, like erecting protective fencing.

He is now suing the agency for breaching the Environment Act 1995, claiming the agency had a duty of care to consult local landowners when planning the otter initiative.

He is seeking £2.5 million to cover the loss of income he believes he would have recouped from anglers using his fishery.

The matter will go before the High Court next month in what could become a landmark case for fishery owners across the country who have had similar issues with otters.

The creatures were on the brink of extinction 30 years ago until wildlife enthusiasts launched a massive programme to re-introduce them to the wild.

Since then they have returned to nearly every corner of Britain.

But critics say the scheme has been ill thought as there is not enough food in our waterways to sustain their booming numbers.

As a result otters - which have no natural predator - are said to have been picking off big and cumbersome fish from fisheries and putting them in jeopardy.

Mr Dodson's Waen Wen Fishery, near Bangor, in North Wales, has lain empty and out of use for several years now. He has been unable to sell it and it has now been taken off him by his mortage company.

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