Fishing lake in Essex closed to anglers as hungry seal 'obliterates' stocks of carp and bream

A seal has moved in to Marks Hall Fisheries in Essex, closing the lake to anglers.
A seal has moved in to Marks Hall Fisheries in Essex, closing the lake to anglers. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Angry fishermen have been banned from catching fish in a lake in Essex after a hungry seal moved in.

The seal arrived at Marks Hall Fisheries in Rochford before Christmas and has evaded all attempts to catch it.

Graham Lee, the Lake Bayliff at Rochford Reservoir, said the seal has "absolutely obliterated" the fish stocks.

"It's eating fish roughly between four and 10 pounds, bream and carp. It's a five-star hotel out there. You know it hasn't got to search for its food that hard, it's so easy."

Anglers have been told not to fish in the lake for the safety of the animal.

Mr Lee said: "I'm getting phone calls all the while from the fishermen saying 'When's it going to open'? When the seal goes, and that's basically the truth of it."

The seal can be seen in the water at Rochford Reservoir which has been closed to anglers. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The seal has evaded capture despite a two-day rescue attempt involving police, the council and the Environment Agency.

"I've been fishing here for over 30 years and never has this happened before," said Mr Lee.

He added that the lake was not the natural habitat for the seal and was concerned for its health.

He said: "The thing is, this is fresh water, the seal is a marine animal and lives in salt water.

"The fish are fresh-water fish, carp and bream, they've not got salt content like the sea fish have."

A statement posted on the Marks Hall Fisheries Facebook page, after the latest attempts to capture the seal said: "Unfortunately today's attempt to remove the seal failed.

"Seal Rescue and Essex Rural Police have decided we cannot try again as they believe the injuries to the seal are not life threatening.

"RDC [Rochford District Council] have told me that the reservoir will now be closed for a further 2 weeks whilst consultations go on between the agencies involved."

Attempts to catch the seal at Marks Hall Fisheries have failed.

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