LATE SUMMER NEWS UPDATE

4 Aug

In case you have missed some of the recent news, and are looking to fill in time as we wait for some rain and runs of fish, here are a few bits that may be of interest.

River Pollution

Hardly news, I suppose, given that by the EA’s own figures, only 14% of English rivers are of “good ecological standard”.

But in a recent live-streamed documentary focusing on the River Wye, many of the common problems have been highlighted.

If you have not done so, you really should watch this. And then to make sure that the general public are aware (and horrified), please send it on to as many people as possible

Rivercide video

Salmon fishing banned as pinks take over

No, not here – yet!

You might have thought we had problems with some Pacific pink salmon turning up in rivers from the Don in Scotland to the Hampshire Avon. But that may be just a foretaste of what is to come.

Atlantic salmon are so few now in the Finnmark area of Norway and in Finland that fishing has been banned in several rivers in this once productive area. And a major contributing factor is the number of pinks, which are so plentiful they have to be trapped. In one river, where in 2017 there were only 8 of these interlopers caught, in nine days recently there were 2,700 caught.

And these Pacific fish were introduced as an experiment into some Russian rivers as early as the 1960’s. You would think we would learn about introducing species into an established ecosystem, but have we really? (see our previous comments on the introduction of beavers in the UK).

Barents Observer article

Salmon Farming banned

No, don’t get too excited – it has been banned in a country which has no salmon farms! Nevertheless, I may be an important pointer of the way forward….

In the Argentinian side of the southern archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, lawmakers have unanimously approved a bill banning salmon farming in the pristine waters of the Beagle Channel, the only viable area in Argentina for salmon farming, on the grounds of its environmental impact.

This ban has received considerable support from the Chilean side where “the salmon fattening centres operate on average at 40% anaerobic conditions, impairing the quality of waters and sediments, and consequently biodiversity”. Chile provides a quarter of the world’s supply of farmed salmon with over 1,000 farms and a history of environmental disasters despite the use of tons of antibiotics.

Let us hope that the example of Tierra del Fuego can be taken up as an example in our own country, and will lend support to communities like the Isle of Skye.

Tierra del Fuego article

Sentience Bill

This bill in its most basic form looks relatively harmless, setting up a committee that is advisory only. The purpose of the committee is to advise, during the formulation or implementation of any government policy, the effect on the welfare of animals as sentient beings.

There is already a lot of concern about the possible future impact of this bill and the committee – who, by the way, are appointed by the Secretary of State. Will there be a sensible cross-section of opinions represented on this committee?

As Martin Salter, Head of Policy at the Angling Trust, said:
“The open-ended nature of the current Bill clearly leaves it vulnerable to mission creep which will be exploited by those wishing to ban or severely curtail country sports such as fishing and shooting. Further clarification is required and that message has been made loud and clear to parliamentarians.”

The bill is remarkably short, so if you want to see it in detail, you can find it here

Like London Buses!

27 May

It has been quite a while since we saw a petition relevant to our rivers, but now we have two at once!

The first is a parliamentary petition at the behest of Salmon and Trout Conservation UK. They have published a report on the Environment Agency’s role in protecting and enhancing the rivers, lakes and streams of England over the twenty-five years since its formation.  The section headings of the report give a very good summary of the ground they cover:

  • Twenty-five years of the EA
  • The state of the freshwater aquatic environment in England
  • How has the EA been performing?
  • Inadequate monitoring
  • Operator self-monitoring – an invitation to cheat?
  • Poor inspection rates
  • Declining responses to public reports of pollution
  • Weak enforcement and vanishing prosecutions
  • The pernicious effect of deregulation, guidance and codes on the EA
  • Why has the EA been performing so poorly?
  • Declining funding and staffing
  • Conclusions and recommendations

It is an interesting and reasoned document, which you can read in full here

The S&TC seek to improve the position by requiring the Government to reverse years of cuts to Agency budgets, increase charges for polluters, and give the Agency freedom from overly business-friendly Government codes and guidance, so it can pursue and achieve its principle statutory objective to protect and enhance English rivers.

Please sign the petition.

 

 

 

Second up, and in a similar vein, is the Angling Trust, who summarise as follows

THE PROBLEMS

  • All our water bodies assessed under the Water Framework Directive are failing chemical pollution standards.
  • Only 16% of waters assessed under the Water Framework Directive met the “good” standard (the same level as the last assessment in 2016).
  • In 2019, combined sewage overflows (CSOs) released raw sewage into our waterways 204,134 times, for a total duration of 1.53 million hours.
  • The discharges from 3,400 CSOs are still not monitored.
  • Since 2010 the Environment Agency has seen its budget cut by 57%.
  • Too often polluters are not held to account and are simply getting away with polluting our waters.

THE SOLUTIONS

  • Better monitoring of our rivers, lakes, canals and coastal waters.
  • Proper enforcement of existing laws and regulations.
  • Stricter penalties against polluters to discourage them from polluting again.
  • Review of existing laws to help close loopholes.

They too are calling upon the government to provide enough funding to Environment Agency, Natural Resource Wales and Natural England to ensure they are able to carry out fully their statutory duties, as well as calling for more action on monitoring and prosecuting pollution.

You may sign up to this petition here

We will monitor the progress of these petitions and report back in due course.

Beavers again!

6 May

We have mentioned before the introduction of beavers in the UK and cast doubt upon the wisdom of so doing without proper research into the consequences. Lo and behold!   A recent article from the BBC News service has illustrated the potential problems.

In a small town in Quebec, beavers chewed through fibre cable at multiple points, causing disruption to internet and TV service. More telling was that the cable had been buried 3 feet underground and protected by a conduit more than 4 inches thick. Of great interest also is the report that farmers in particular worry about the havoc beavers could cause to crops and trees. Further, the mayor of the affected town had already blamed beavers for extensive flooding which damaged property and infrastructure.

And we are deliberately introducing these creatures into the British countryside without proper research into the consequences or any formal mechanism for monitoring and control?

The BBC article can be found here

No, not an April Fool!

6 Apr

When I read an article about this in the weekend paper, I really did think that someone had missed an April Fool’s prank.   The “report” on Fish Welfare by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation reads just like an April Fool, and the Angling Trust have done well to call a spade a spade and label it an ‘ill informed anti-angling rant lacking in evidence or credibility’.

You can read the Angling Trust’s reaction here, and their page also contains a link to the full report.  Just a tip: if you suffer from high blood pressure, do not read the full report!

Kudos to the Angling Trust for their unequivocal response!   They set a great example to us all of how we must not let these wild allegations go unchallenged, and how we should both bring them to light wherever they occur and correct them in a calm and factual manner.