Drones, improvements and NFM in a busy month for the EA

Some of the important work that Environment Agency teams have carried out over the past month...

by Angling Times |

Hello from everyone at the Environment Agency,

We would like to share with you some of the important work that our teams have carried out over the past month.

Firstly, we got off to an exciting start as we have launched our annual angling campaign to encourage even more people to go fishing. This year, ex footballer and Soccer AM star Jimmy Bullard joined us in highlighting the benefits of taking up angling. You can view Jimmy’s video on our YouTube channel.

Secondly, our teams have made significant progress in carrying out projects across the country funded through our Fisheries Improvement Programme (FIP).

Our teams have been working in partnership with the Angling Trust to prepare for the launch of this year’s Angling Improvement Fund (AIF), and also, this year’s National Fishing Month (NFM). The AIF is due to launch on May 16th and will focus on initiatives to tackle invasive non-native species, while the NFM will run from 1st - 31st August and will take a renewed focus on inclusivity and accessibility.

Our teams in the South-West have been deploying drones to crackdown on illegal fishing activity; while statistics from this year’s Operation Clampdown have revealed that there have been 312 close season patrols, 33 close season offences, and 86 other offences detected across England during the period 15th March – 30th April.

More detail on highlights for this month are below.

Extended Partnership with the Wild Trout Trust

We have extended our partnership with the Wild Trout Trust until 2025. The renewed partnership will deliver projects across England which improve the natural environment and contribute to more resilient rivers and fisheries habitats.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the partnership was able to improve more than 120km of rivers in 2021 and continued to raise awareness of river and trout conservation through workshops and the media.

Building on successes so far, the partnership will continue to support grassroots conservation efforts and provide advice and recommendations to help angling clubs, landowners and other partners, play their part in enhancing wild trout populations across England.

Drones offer extra eyes to combat illegal fishing activity

Environment Agency fisheries officers in the South-West have been clamping down on illegal fishing activity with the help of Avon and Somerset Police drone unit.

The drones are able to scan miles of the riverbank in quick time and alert officials to the presence of suspicious activity, such as the use of illegal nets or out-of-season fishing, which may require further investigation on the ground.

Members of the Avon and Somerset Police drone unit commented that it was great to join up with the Environment Agency to expand the use of drones in combatting illegal activity. Illegal fishing not only damages the sport, but poses a serious risk of spreading fish diseases and invasive species.

Anyone fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and to face a fine of up to £2,500. Anyone who uses illegal methods faces a prison sentence of potentially two years and a fine of up to £50,000 for byelaw offences. If you suspect illegal fishing to be taking place, please report the matter to our hotline on 0800 807060 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Fishing for military veterans and improving disabled access in Harwich

Environment Agency teams in Essex and the mental health programme, iCarp, were allocated £10,000 through the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Programme (FIP), to carry out improvements to the Lifted Lakes Fishery in Harwich. FIP reinvests rod licence income to fund a range of projects aimed at improving fisheries across England.

The partnership used the funding to set up the Lifted Lakes fishery for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The venue therapy sessions have already started and are being used to teach fishing to those with mental health issues.

The funding has also been used to help introduce disabled access for swimmers and to increase the variety of angling experiences that the lakes can offer.

The project work is all now well underway, with new facilities now functional and with people already starting to see the benefits.

Improvements to Fisheries in Devon and Cornwall

Our officers have been working with partners across Devon and Cornwall to protect and improve fisheries in the region, facilitated through the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Programme (FIP).

At the River Lyn fishery, near Lynmouth, Devon, Environment Agency officers have used FIP funding to produce new eye-catching signage at this popular day ticket trout and salmon fishery on Exmoor. The new signs include information on the salmon lifecycle, health and safety – and above all, promote the great fishing available. We hope that the new signage will encourage more anglers to fish this river and enjoy the benefits of being in the outdoors.

Meanwhile, at the Plymouth & District Coarse Angling Club in East Cornwall & West Devon, Environment Agency officers have improved accessibility. The officers have used FIP funding to refurbish four fishing pegs and upgrade steps and walkways at the club’s St Germans fishery near Saltash, providing safe access around the fishery to all users.

FIP funding has also paid for new aquatic plants and coir bank protection products, which have been installed at Filham Park fishery in Ivybridge in South Devon, and Cadaver fishery in West Devon, to improve aquatic habitats and water quality.

Angling Improvement Fund

This year we have launched the Angling Improvement Fund during Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) week (May 16th – 22nd.) Administered by the Angling Trust and funded by rod licence income, a total of £75,000 will be made available to fund initiatives aiming to tackle INNS.

INNS pose a major threat to fishing and native fish populations. Invasive aquatic animals outcompete native fish species for food and shelter, decrease fish numbers, and negatively impact on fish health. For example, Killer Shrimp has a major effect on ecosystems; predating on native shrimps, mayflies, damselflies, snails, fish eggs and larvae. Meanwhile, aquatic plants, such as floating pennywort, overwhelm native plants, creating dense mats on the water’s surface and in the water column, which remove important habitat for young fish, decrease water quality, and impede fishing access.

This year, the fund will focus on providing opportunities for angling clubs and fisheries to boost their biosecurity measures and tackle biological invasions.

Close season campaign: Operation Clampdown

The first results are in from this year’s Operation Clampdown, a joint Environment Agency and Angling Trust initiative aimed at preventing illegal fishing activity during the coarse fish close season on rivers. The results reveal that over the 15th March – 30th April reporting period, there were 312 close season patrols, 33 close season offences, and 86 other offences detected – most of which were rod licence-related. The region with the highest number of close season patrols was the North London and Hertfordshire region with 55.

The annual close season campaign is crucial in helping to protect fish stocks, to allow coarse fish species to thrive in the right habitat and spawn successfully. Anyone convicted during the season faces a significant fine and possible confiscation of equipment.

National Fishing Month

Following a successful relaunch in 2021, National Fishing Month (NFM) is back for 2022!

National Fishing Month, running from August 1st to 31st, is an Angling Trades Association initiative which promotes the wonderful sport of angling, and all the social, mental, and physical benefits it can deliver. The initiative is supported by the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency.

This year is set to be the biggest year yet, celebrating the surging popularity of the sport among beginners. A series of events will be run across the country aiming to get more people involved, and providing a chance to get out into nature, have fun, spend time with others, or relax on your own.

Further steps have already been taken to improve inclusivity, including a calendar that features specific family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible events. Everyone is welcome and are encouraged to find a free event near them.

Don’t forget to stay in touch

Don’t forget to stay in touch. You can stay up to date with the latest news and information from the Environment Agency on Twitter and Instagram at @envagency

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