Wye ‘worse than ever’

Top river guide calls for action to protect one of UK’s favourite fisheries

Wye 'worse than ever'

by Angling Times |

LIFELONG anglers on Hereford’s River Wye – one of Britain’s finest fisheries – say they’ve never seen the iconic waterway in such a poor state.

Turbid water, filled with algae, and a riverbed devoid of streamer weed, are the current picture of the SSSI site. These problems have been around for years, but this summer they’ve reached a concerning crescendo. River guide Adam Fisher, of Angling Dreams based in the Wye Valley, revealed the extent of the problem.

A section of the Wye in 2019 full of streamer weed
A section of the Wye in 2019 full of streamer weed

“When I was a kid, the streamer weed was so thick you could hardly wade,” he told us

“This year, combined with the dense algal blooms, the Wye resembles a canal.

“The barbel are doing fine and the chub fishing is better than ever, but it’s likely they’re using bankside features, such as trees and bushes, for shelter. With more non-angling water users on the banks the fish will feel this pressure increasingly.”

The same section of the Wye in 2020 and the weed is gone
The same section of the Wye in 2020 and the weed is gone

The Wye’s algal blooms are widely reported as being caused by poultry farms in the valley, and Adam believes large organisations have a responsibility to tackle these.

“As anglers, we can’t fix the problems with these farms,” he said.

“It’s a legal issue, and the responsibility of the Environment Agency and Rivers Trusts. What we can do is raise awareness of what’s happening.

“Anglers have a very good attitude towards the river, but the same can’t be said of other water users. By showing the Wye’s current state we can remind them how special it is.”

The barbel are doing fine and the chub fishing is better than ever, but it’s likely they’re using bankside features, such as trees and bushes, for shelter
The barbel are doing fine and the chub fishing is better than ever, but it’s likely they’re using bankside features, such as trees and bushes, for shelter

We asked the EA what it was doing about poultry farms in the Wye Valley. A spokesperson said:

“We’re aware there’s more work to do and we’re hard at work alongside our key catchment partners to implement a range of interventions to tackle the sources of pollution in our rivers.

“We’re targeting regulatory activity towards high risk areas (e.g. sloping fields with bare soil) and activities (e.g. spreading) and at locations where we have records of previous pollution incidents.”

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