Male bream image by andreshka AdobeStock_32733247

Following the sighting of an unusually large number of dead fish at Priory Country Park lake and investigation by the Environment Agency, it has been decided that the start of the fishing season needs to be delayed for the main lake only this year until at least 1 July 2021.

All other areas of the ticketed fishery remain open, with map boards on the site showing the areas that remain open.

The Council became aware of a large number of bream dying at Priory Country Park, and notified the Environment Agency. Tests have been carried out and to date, no specific cause have been found relating to increased fish fatality numbers.

The Council said that water quality tests found high levels of oxygen in the water, and low levels of ammonia, algae and other potentially problematic microscopic plants.

Adding that it is currently thought that the issue may be due to low spring temperatures earlier this year, which could have caused issues with the bream spawning and then having an impact on the health of the fish.

Paul Wilkanowski, fisheries & biodiversity officer at the Environment Agency, said:

“The Environment Agency has been investigating a fish mortality at Priory Country Park lake since early May and advising Bedford Borough Council who own the lake

“So far no obvious cause has been identified. Cold temperatures in May is a potential factor. Increasing water temperatures coinciding with the fish spawning period can often cause stress-related issues.

“Until the situation improves we have advised the Council to keep the lake closed.”

Cllr Charles Royden, portfolio holder for environment at Bedford Borough Council, said:

“With the fishing season at Priory due to start on 16 June, and high level of bream mortality being seen- with estimates that 300 bream have died- it is only right that we delay the start of the season to limit the impact on our fish population.

“We will be monitoring the situation closely, along with the Environment Agency, keeping local anglers informed with any developments.”