Seal chomps through £3,000 worth of fish and forces business to shut


The seal has been causing absolute havoc at a fishing lake (Picture: Nick North/SWNS)

A ravenous seal ate through £3,000 of fish stock and forced a man to close his business for several weeks.

Nick North, who runs Marks Hall Fisheries at Rochford Reservoir in Essex, closed the lake on December 12 when the water froze over.

But the seal was spotted on the frozen lake the same day and started targeting bream, catfish and carp – with the mammal even snacking on the ducks.

So far the seal has evaded capture attempts and the RSPCA, Essex Rural Police and the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) are now all involved.

The one-year-old grey seal was first spotted swimming up the River Roach and most likely came from the sea.

Nick said: ‘It’s ridiculous. It’s ruining my business.

‘It could probably get out if it wanted to but it won’t go. It’s got never-ending food supplies.

‘It shouldn’t be here, this is fresh water, you’ve never seen a seal in a park lake or any lake really.

The seal has so far evaded capture on two separate occasions (Picture: Nick North/SWNS)

The seal has chomped through £3,000 worth of fish stock (Picture: Nick North/SWNS)

Ducks are also now being targeted (Picture: Nick North/SWNS)

‘It’s not made for fresh water.

‘Even though it’s ruining my business. It’s still part of nature I suppose, just an unwanted part.’

According to Nick, the seal got into the lake by crawling over the 10-metre bank between it and the river.

It then went onto the frozen lake and fell through the ice on its way to the island in the middle.

What may have started as an accident which temporarily trapped the animal has ended with a well-fed seal.

Nick now has to wait for the environment agencies to conjure up another plan to capture it.

The seal has been seen bobbing up and down around the lake (Picture: Nick North / SWNS)

But while he waits, he is getting no compensation for the money he is losing while closed.

The business owner has leased the lake from Rochford District Council for 12 years and has never found himself in this situation before.

The seal has some injuries such as a cut on its head and tail and a suspected blind eye, but its not known when or how this happened.

A spokesperson from BDLMR said: ‘We are currently the lead agency dealing with a seal which has found its way into a fishing lake near Southend.

‘Tranquilisers and electrofishing do not work on seals due to their insulating fat and risks to the fish population.

‘We do want this animal to be relocated as much as the angling community do – it cannot exhibit normal ‘seal’ behaviour on its own (they are social, colony animals).

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‘All agencies involved appreciate the detrimental effect on the other species in the lake.

‘Seals are capable of living healthily in freshwater, however, it is obviously not a natural location for this one.

‘We need to give it a short period to settle again after the last two attempts.

‘We must balance the stress of capture attempts against the likelihood of success.

‘We do have a further plan being discussed at the moment, including the fantastic team who manage the lake.

‘We would ask for the public’s support in looking after this animal until such time as a resolution can be reached.’

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