Man Sues for $3 Million after Fish Eaten By Otters

A fish farmer in Wales has taken a government agency to court, claiming that he has been ruined after his entire stock of 22,000 carp was eaten by otters.

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Phil Noble / REUTERS

An Asian short-clawed otter eats a fish in its enclosure at Chester Zoo, U.K.

A fish farmer in Wales has taken a government agency to court, claiming financial ruin after his entire stock of 22,000 carp was eaten by otters and demanding $3 million restitution.

Brian Dodson, 60, set up Waen Wen Fishery near Bangor, North Wales, in 1999, digging six lakes and stocking them with fish at a cost of nearly $400,000. A partial harvest, in 2005, showed that the scheme was going well, writes the Press Association. But in 2009, Mr. Dodson went to remove more fish from the lakes – and found only bones.

The culprits? A colony of otters in the nearby River Cegin. Mr. Dodson claims the Environment Agency encouraged them to breed by building otter holts there, reports WalesOnline.

“I was literally eaten out of house and home,” said Mr. Dodson, who is now living with his son and is receiving state benefits. The £2 million (about $3 million) he’s demanding, he’s said, is what he would have recouped from anglers using his fishery.

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The court heard from an expert on otters, brought in by the Environment Agency, who claimed that the agency’s actions had no effect on otter numbers. But Mr. Dobson accused the government body of breaching its duty of care by failing to warn him of what it was doing, writes the Press Association.

He claims that when he set up his fishery, local people told him that the River Cegin had no otters living in it; had the Environment Agency told him that otters might re-colonize the nearby river he could have taken protective steps, like erecting protective fencing.

Otters were on the brink of extinction in the U.K. until 30 years ago, when wildlife enthusiasts launched a massive program to re-introduce them to the wild — since which they have returned in huge numbers throughout Britain, notes the Daily Telegraph.

The Environment Agency described Mr. Dodson’s claims as “hopeless,” reports the BBC.

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