Angling Trust River Maintenance Campaign Success
The Angling Trust has welcomed the Environment Agency’s announcement that it will change the way that it manages river maintenance work to reduce the impact on fish and fishing.
The representative body for all angling mounted a concerted campaign about the issue last winter after it received reports from around the country of damage to trees and bankside vegetation on riverbanks and in rivers. These reports were collated into a dossier and presented to the Agency’s senior management. Since then, the Angling Trust has had several discussions with the Agency to try and put systems in place to prevent such widespread damage occurring in the future.
The Environment Agency has responded to the campaign by committing to eight significant management actions which will be monitored by an assurance system to check that procedures are followed. These are set out in a statement which was sent to the Angling Trust on the 1st of December.
The Agency has also established a new interactive system so that angling clubs and fishery owners can find out what work is planned on rivers where they have fishing rights. This will be updated on a quarterly basis, but the Angling Trust has pressed for more regular updates and an automated system to be established to enable clubs and fishery owners to register for alerts about new works planned for their stretches of river as soon as they enter the planning stage. The Trust will be promoting this through the regional forums it organises throughout the country and on its regional Facebook pages.
The Loddon Consultative, Environment Agency and Angling Trust have produced guidance to people managing riverside trees and this is being made available nationally to encourage best practice.
Bankside vegetation and fallen trees provide vital habitat for fish by providing food, nursery habitat for small fish, places for fish of all sizes to hide from predators such as cormorants and otters, surfaces to lay eggs and protection from high flows during floods. They are also vital for invertebrates which are the main food for fish and declining in many parts of the country. The presence of such habitat therefore helps to protect fish stocks and also creates important lies for anglers to target. Removal can have a significant impact on the amenity value of fishing rights and club subscriptions.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal, said: “We welcome the Agency’s response to our campaign and its commitment to consult better before carrying out works with its own fisheries and biodiversity teams and angling clubs and fishery owners. The new interactive tool is a helpful start for clubs and fisheries to keep an eye on plans for their stretches of river. Change takes time in an organisation of the Agency’s size and complexity and we will continue to exert pressure on behalf of all anglers to continue this improvement in ways of working. We are very grateful to all those who sent us information last winter and to our members and supporters who made this successful campaign possible with their subscriptions and donations.”