Fish farmer loses compensation claim for fish eaten by otters


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A fishery owner who sued the Environment Agency after otters ate his entire stock of carp, has lost his High Court bid for compensation.

Brian Dobson claimed his business was ruined after 22,000 carp worth £250,000 were eaten after an "otter haven" was set up less than two miles from his fish farm near Bangor.

He sued the EA for £2m to cover the loss of income he said would have been recouped from anglers who used the fishery. He claimed the agency had acted illegally by constructing otter holts on the nearby River Cegin to encourage the otters to breed in the area and that the EA had a duty of care to inform him on their activity and the potential affect on his business.

But Wales Online reports that the judge found in favour of the EA and Mr Dobson now faces a costs bill for £30,000.

Judge Keyser QC said: "In my judgement, the construction of the otter holts on the River Cegin did not impose on the defendant any duty of care at common law to advise the claimant in the respect of otter predation and the protection of his own economic and propriety interests.

He added that the EA had not been responsible for building the otter holts, saying: "Construction of the holts was a community-based activity at the fringes of the project and arranged by other persons other than the defendant."

The ruling also contained no opinion on what ate so many of Mr Dodson's fish, as Judge Keyser said this was something the case was not concerned with, even though the fish farmer remains certain it was otters.

Judge Keyser said: "The defendant has throughout this case denied that otter predation is a plausible explanation of the loss of the claimant’s fish stock. I have not been required to determine this issue.

"Even on the information before me, however, it is clear that the claimant would have faced considerable difficulties in establishing that the loss of his stock was due to otter predation."

Mr Dodson said he was very disappointed, adding that he had been standing up for fish farms and anglers throughout the country.

"This case has raised as many questions as it has resolved as far as I am concerned," he said.

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