EVEN fish have become a victims of the recent floods.
Peter and Debbie Beale say they have lost around £25,000 at their fishery after 70 tonnes of gravel washed into their waters.
The couple run Broadlands Lakes Coarse Fishery in Calmore and believe 2,000 of their trout are dead after being buried alive under the gravel.
Now a 9ft deep sinkhole has emerged on their land close to a bridge at the M27.
Debbie, who has run the fishery with Peter for almost eight years, said: “We've had problems since December. Around 70 tonnes of gravel has been washed downstream and it's raised the river beds with water flooding over our bridge. We had some helpful fishermen who came down to clear some of the gravel but there was more of it the next morning.
“We had 2,000 trout in our underwater cages but they must be dead because they are buried under it. We used them for pike fishing season which is our big winter season between October and March so now we have lost out on a big chunk of business.
“Now we are at the bottom of the money pit because we have spent so much on repairs.”
They run an 82-acre estate including more than 30 acres of water and specialise in pike and carp fishing.
Despite the troubles the pair have managed to keep the business open but are appealing for help from the private sector to provide machinery to remove the gravel after claiming the Environment Agency would not help.
They believe work by the Army in Romsey to divert the flow of the River Test away from the town has increased the amount of water moving in their direction.
Debbie added: “Other people are getting help but we need it too. We have a lot of fish that are not native to the River Test and the Environment Agency does not want them getting loose so they came down last week to help us block some of the inlets bringing water in.
“But since then we have had a sinkhole develop that must be 9ft deep and 12ft wide which we are having to fill with concrete blocks. It’s a never-ending struggle at the moment.
“We have asked for help clearing the gravel but are not getting any because we are a commercial business. I can appreciate the Environment Agency has to protect homes in Romsey but we all pay our taxes and should be treated equally when we need help. We have the manpower but need the machinery.”
An Environment Agency spokesman said they were unaware where the gravel had come from but had sent a fisheries expert to meet Peter and Debbie.
She said: “We only added gravel to the River Itchen rather than the Test, so that gravel did not come from us. Our fisheries expert attended a meeting at the site which was positive and we agreed they could amend the water levels at the site to protect their fish.
“Because they are the owners of that site it is not our responsibility to remove the gravel. We are only responsible for public lakes and river so they as owners will have to remove it.”
If anyone can help Peter and Debbie remove the gravel, contact them on 023 8086 9881.