THE mysterious deaths of hundreds of carp has prompted a temporary ban on coarse fish movement in the county while expert investigations continue.
At least 200 fish are known to have died since May, in and around the River Weaver and the unauthorised transfer of fish between waterways has been made illegal until further notice.
The Environment Agency, which regulates movements of fish between inland waters in England and Wales, says it is working 'non-stop' to solve the mystery.
In the meantime, all coarse fish movements in Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester are prohibited without written consent.
The Agency adds results of scientific analysis by the National Fisheries Laboratory do not point to any known dis-ease.
Angling clubs are asked to be extra vigilant by not allowing members or non-members to move fish from one site to another.
Spokeswoman Joanne Sheppard said: 'Requests for move-ments of trout will be looked at carefully but applications will be rejected if there is any chance the movement could represent a further risk.
'These measures will continue until the cause of the carp deaths can be established.
'During this period, the Agency's fisheries officers may need to collect fish for scientific or emergency purposes.
'If fish need to be collected or moved, the Agency will ensure any environmental risks are minimal.
'Anglers and the public can support the Agency by reporting carp deaths.'
Recent carp 'losses' in the Bridgewater Canal at Runcorn were attributed to low water levels caused by a broken sluice gate in Manchester.
But Runcorn man Michael Gittins, head bailiff for Lymm Anglers, fears a virus could even have been responsible for these deaths.
Lymm Angers is one of several clubs in the county to have closed some of its waters to safeguard stocks.
He said: 'The Environment Agency has done parasitic tests and they have come back clear as have bacterial tests while the virological tests have a couple of anomalies. But they are still not sure exactly what it is.
'It started in the Winsford area but got into the River Weaver.
'We were alerted at the back end of May and Lymm Anglers started to close our waters to fishing to protect our fish.
'We seem to have been successful - we've not had any reported deaths.'
But Mr Gittins admitted: 'It is a very anxious time when you think of the money you would have to spend just to replace fish in one of our waters. You are talking £100,000.
'It is frustrating because the deaths started around early June, our busiest period .'