Hello from everyone at the Environment Agency,
We were pleased to see so many faces – old and new – enjoying fishing on riverbanks this summer.
National Fishing Month and Take a Friend Fishing saw thousands of people pick up a rod and enjoy the benefits of angling.
Heading into the autumn season, enforcement officers continue to take part in regular patrols to tackle illegal activity and protect fisheries for all to enjoy.
In this month’s update, we hear of ongoing work to protect salmon species, enforcement updates and a successful fish rescue.
All of the updates below are funded by rod licence income with similar work supported by the EA taking place across the country.
New byelaws introduced for the River Severn
The Environment Agency is introducing restrictions on salmon fishing on the River Severn and Severn Estuary.
Effective from the 13th September, the byelaws are in response to the decline in migratory salmon stocks. Numbers are currently among the lowest on record and are below sustainable levels. Kevin Austin, Environment Agency’s Deputy Director for Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment, said: “We are committed to protecting our precious salmon stocks for future generations to enjoy. This is why we are taking steps to limit pressures that contribute to salmon declines.
“We must act now before it’s too late and encourage all fisherman to play their part to ensure the next generation of anglers will be able to enjoy the benefits of sustainable salmon and sea trout fishing.
“Fishing is only one of multiple factors that have led to the decline in salmon stocks in the Severn. However, we must do as much as we can to improve the chances for salmon to spawn successfully.
We recognise that anglers aren’t the primary cause for the decline in salmon stocks, but we can all do our part to protect this species.
Warning to anglers as enhanced enforcement patrols continue
Enforcement officers in the east of England continue to patrol riverbanks in a bid to tackle illegal fishing and harmful activities.
Patrolling along the Broads with the Broads Beat in Norfolk, the EA team checked 44 anglers’ licences, detecting four offences.
An Essex man was ordered to pay almost £400 after being caught fishing illegally without a valid fishing licence – a total which is more than 13 times the cost of a standard fishing licence at £30.
Over the summer, EA teams also seized an illegal net from the River Gripping in Stowmarket. Enforcement offers removed the net without harming any fish or wildlife, the net was detected after a member of the public reported it to the incident hotline number.
Anyone who suspects instances of illegal activity should contact the EA incident helpline on 0800 80 70 60.
EA officers meet Hollywood stars
Attending emergency services day at Lakeside Shopping Centre, fisheries enforcement officers had the opportunity to teach the public about the benefits of angling. They discussed how to fish safely and the importance of preventing illegal fishing to protect fisheries habitats for all.
Whilst the team were there, they brushed shoulders with Hollywood heroes – meeting Captain America and the Ghost Busters who all had full, valid fishing licences!
EA officers complete successful fish rescue Fisheries Officers from the Environment Agency’s Cumbria and Lancashire team carried out a fish rescue on the upper River Derwent in Cumbria.
During dry periods of weather, officers check areas they know are susceptible to low river levels. During one of these routine visits, more than 3,000 fish had to be rescued from small pools after becoming stranded. These included Salmon Parr, Brown Trout, Eels, Minnows and Stone Loach. They were then rehomed in Derwentwater where water levels remain higher than local rivers even after sustained periods of dry weather.
Our teams work around the clock to respond to environmental incidents, including reports of fish in distress.
During the summer months Environment Agency fish rescue operations tend to increase as the sunny weather brings not only lower river levels, but also algal blooms that reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen that fish depend on to survive.
Anyone who sees fish in distress should contact our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.
EA share wildlife crime expertise
Fisheries enforcement teams and Angling Trust partners attended a wildlife and rural crime conference hosted by Hertfordshire Police in early September.
Speaking at the conference, Fisheries Enforcement Officer Darren Wakenell highlighted the work the EA does to prevent illegal fishing and protect fisheries.
The EA regularly work with Hertfordshire and Met Police, this conference is part of an ongoing relationship to tackle rural crime and protect wildlife.
EA launches fund to regenerate angling facilities with the Angling Trust
A £50,000 fund has been launched by the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to tackle biosecurity threats and improve angling facilities. The Angling Improvement Fund (AIF) will assist angling clubs in managing the threat posed by non-native species, such as the killer shrimp. Invasive aquatic plants and animals can harm native fish and other wildlife, which means it’s vital to monitor and improve biosecurity.
Clubs are able to bid for a maximum of £5,000 this funding round. The AIF is made possible by the income from rod licence sales. Purchasing a fishing licence ensures that improvements can be made to protect facilities and enhance angling for all.
EA delivers warning to illegal fishers as Operation Lungfish gets underway
Operation Lungfish has begun with enhanced patrols by the Environment Agency, who have been joined by the Angling Trust’s Voluntary Bailiff Service and Police, in a bid to target illegal fishing and poaching. Throughout August, enforcement teams have been inspecting licences on riverbanks in a bid to prevent crime and protect fish populations.
During the first few weeks of Operation Lungfish, illegal crayfish traps were seized in the West Midlands and in Lincolnshire, a patrol led by the East Midlands wildlife crime group alongside the Angling Trust, inspected 118 licences and issued 16 notices to prevent illegal activity. Operation Lungfish is taking place around the country and is funded by rod licence sales.
Anglers urged to be vigilant following sightings of fish disease and non-native species
The Environment Agency is urging anglers to be vigilant following reports of salmon or sea trout exhibiting signs of red skin disease in English rivers. Anglers should look for a red rash on the underbelly and near the mouth of the fish. The causes and impact of the condition are currently unknown, research at the National Fisheries Laboratory is currently ongoing. Advice to anglers can be found here. Norwegian authorities have also informed the Environment Agency that pink salmon have been observed swimming in more southerly locations than ever before. As such, anglers are requested to be alert for the invasive species appearing in England’s rivers, particularly in the North West and East. Pink Salmon can be identified by large black oval spots on the tail and they are typically much smaller than Atlantic salmon, more information here. Anglers fishing this summer are encouraged to practice good, bio-secure habits – cleaning and drying equipment when moving between waterways to protect native species. Anyone who spots instances of fish in distress should call the incident helpline on: 0800 80 70 60.
Relief Channel hydro acoustic survey
Environment Agency fisheries officers recently carried out a hydro acoustic survey on the Great Ouse Relief Channel. Taking place across two nights, this survey was completed to assess the health of the river. The hydro acoustic survey is used to support local fisheries surveys and identify the average density of the fish present, whilst also providing a population estimate. This allows the EA to monitor fish stocks closely and help identify at-risk populations before determining any action is needed. The results from this survey will be available on the Angling Trust Eastern Region Forum website in early September.
EA offers new paperless option with digital licence launch
In July, the Environment Agency launched a new digital fishing licence option. Anglers now have the option to choose a completely paperless rod licence, which is available to download on mobile devices. The introduction of digital licences saves money and reduces the use of paper. Take up so far has been encouraging with over 40% of new purchasers opting for a digital version. To buy or renew a rod licence, please visit: Buy a rod fishing licence - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)