Hello from everyone at the Environment Agency,
As school holidays and summer staycations approach, our staff are hard at work protecting and improving fisheries for all to enjoy.
In this month’s update, we’re pleased to announce that the popular Take a Friend Fishing initiative is back for another year to encourage more people to try the sport for the first time. We also share the latest updates on our enforcement activity as officers continue to seize illegal equipment to safeguard fish species across the country.
All of the examples mentioned here are funded by rod licence sales with similar work supported by the EA taking place across the country.
The One Show team visit the Diglis fish pass
Matt Buck, one of our Fisheries Technical Specialists, joined Matt Allwright on the One Show to discuss a new fish pass installed on the River Severn. The infrastructure is designed to encourage the repopulation of twait shad, a British fish that was once as popular as salmon.
In the interview, Matt described the fish pass operation and outlined that early observations are promising as the fish pass has encouraged the movement of 19 different species, including protected populations such as salmon and shad – watch the full piece here. The public can visit the fish pass and see the fish on their journey to fertile breeding grounds from the end of summer 2021, visit the website for booking updates.
Clampdown on illegal activity continues in Derbyshire
During a multi-agency operation in Derbyshire, we issued 14 notices for illegal angling following 166 spot checks. Our East Midlands Area enforcement team worked alongside the Midlands Wildlife Crime Group, including officers from the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire police forces. Volunteer bailiffs from the Angling Trust also supported the operation. An illegal trap and three illegal nets were also confiscated by the enforcement teams. If you suspect illegal fishing to be taking place, you can report it to the national hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Leigh fish rescue saves almost 200 fish
Earlier this month we rescued a number of fish left stranded in a shallow brook after they were washed out of their spawning grounds by heavy rain. Our fisheries officers moved almost 200 Bream downstream from a section of Pennington Brook, which is a shallow watercourse prone to low dissolved oxygen levels during prolonged periods without rain.
The EA Fisheries Officers attended the site to assess the situation and found a large number of mature Bream stuck below a weir. Bream live in Pennington Flash and at this time of year they congregate to spawn near the flash’s outflow. To prevent the Bream from suffering, EA officers decided to rescue the fish and return them safely to Pennington Flash. It was a difficult operation due to the location of the fish, but fisheries officers successfully rescued 174 fish which collectively weighed over 900lbs. The EA responds to all reports of fish in distress to protect fish stocks which is funded by rod licence sales. Anyone who spots fish struggling should contact the helpline on 0800 807060.
Audit reveals growth in smelt numbers
In March 2021, we carried out a Smelt audit on the River Yare in Norfolk. Smelt are a migrating species that were once widespread in many UK river estuaries but have since declined considerably. Because of their rarity, fishing is strictly permitted to licenced Smelt fisherman who are given a legal window to fish. Team EA visited the fishermen to carry out an audit and ensure the regulations were being followed. The audit examined how many nets are used, their location and how many Smelt are captured. The nets used must also be of a particular construction and tagged. The species is an important environmental indicator of Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive. Encouragingly, the fishermen were compliant with their permits and the audit revealed an increase in Smelt population compared to the year before.
Fisheries see accessibility overhaul
Essex fisheries officers worked with Hadleigh and District Angling Society and Councillor Mick Fraser to improve facilities at two still water fisheries, Bullocky Fen and Layham and Pond Field. The society has been working hard to improve the diversity of its membership by improving facilities for the less able angler and encouraging more families to join. At Bullocky Fen, a fully accessible toilet has been installed and an additional car park has been created closer to the fishery. Urgent repairs were also carried out at both facilities to improve access to the sites, making facilities inclusive for every angler.
The improvements were carried out by society volunteers who gave up their free time over a number of weekends to carry out the work
Take a Friend Fishing returns
Take a Friend Fishing is back for 2021, giving even more people the chance to get out fishing just in time for the summer holidays!
As many readers will know, going fishing is a wonderful way to spend quality time with family and friends. And apart from being an enjoyable pastime, fishing can also make you a healthier, happier person.
There are fisheries, lakes, canals and stretches of river open all over the country so whether you are keeping close to home or staycationing this year, there are plenty of spots to take a friend on a fishing trip. The Angling Trust have created a list of venues that are ideal for newcomers, find out more here.
Take a Friend Fishing will run between Friday 23rd July to Sunday 5th September (inclusive) and it couldn’t be easier to get involved.
All you have to do is visit www.takeafriendfishing.co.uk and pre-register with your fishing licence number, email address and a few other details. It’s that simple. The free fishing licence from the Environment Agency, usually worth £6 to £12, will be sent with a confirmation email.
The Take a Friend Fishing campaign is a partnership between the Angling Trust, Environment Agency and Angling Trades Association, it’s the perfect way for newcomers to connect with nature and try the sport alongside a more experienced angler.
To purchase a licence and find out more about rod fishing rules, visit https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/buy-a-fishing-licence.
Don’t forget to stay in touch
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