Thursday, 30 July 2015

Britain's biggest barbel fish, the Big Lady, killed by otter

Anglers want to banish otters amid depleting fish stocks after 20lb barbel dragged out of River Ivel in Bedfordshire and has its throat torn out

By Agency

10:44AM BST 30 Jul 2015

Britain's biggest barbel fish has been killed by an otter, sparking renewed calls by the angling community for a clampdown on the aquatic animals that are now thriving in the countryside.

The large freshwater fish, nicknamed the Big Lady and which was hugely popular with anglers, was seen to be dragged out of a river by a marauding otter that then tore its throat out and partially ate it.

The record specimen weighed more than 20lbs and was believed to be the largest living barbel in UK waters. Six more large coarse fish from the same river, the Ivel in Bedfordshire, have also fallen victim to otter predation in the last three months.

Otters are enjoying a comeback after they were re-introduced into British waterways by conservationists in the 1980s after once being on the brink of extinction.

Despite their fluffy appearance and association with Henry Williamson's much-loved children's book, Tarka the Otter, the marine animals are carnivourous and ferocious hunters.

Critics say the conservation scheme was ill-thought out 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 expensive, cumbersome fish like carp and barbel from fisheries and putting businesses in jeopardy.

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