Another interesting article from The Guardian about salmon farming – please share it, especially with people who don’t fish!
Our attention has been drawn to news reported in The Guardian that England, along with ten other countries including Belgium, Denmark and Spain, has approved the “emergency” use of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam on sugar beet crops. This was in response to lobbying from the National Farmers Union and British Sugar in response to the treat of – yes – a virus (virus yellows disease).
When Britain, as part of the EU, agreed to ban all outdoor use of thiamethoxam, Michael Gove, then Environment Secretary, stated “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment” and that “Unless the evidence base changes again, the government will keep these restrictions in place after we have left the EU.” A similar application was rejected in 2018 on the grounds that government advisers stated it would “cause unacceptable effects to bees in flowering crops and flowering plants in field margins” and would risk “adversely impacting populations of aquatic insects”.
But yet this chemical has now been approved as sugar beet yields are estimated to drop by up to 25% on previous years. The rejected proposed use of the pesticide to protect beet crops in the east of England in 2018 was estimated by the government to be worth about £18m. So now we can work out the monetary gain for which it is worth damaging insect life in our waterways.
Although this use of thiamethoxam appears to be restricted to East Anglia, and therefore should not directly affect our area, we should keep a very careful eye open for similar relaxation on the regulation of similar poisons and pollutants.
There has been some good news, as DEFRA has announced that “Cabinet Office have now officially confirmed that angling / fishing (incl. sea fishing off private boats, water sports) can be considered exercise and are hence permitted.”
Which sounds excellent, but we must all be aware of the limits. The highly-publicised case of the two ladies fined for travelling five miles to walk at Foremark Reservoir is under review, but there are a number of pointers from this that should give us pause before we set out for the river or lake. And we don’t mean that a cup of peppermint tea may be counted as a picnic!
It looks as if there are two main issues that have not yet been fully explained: time and distance.
While fishing has been clearly identified as a “permitted reason”, Government guidance states:
“You should minimise time spent outside your home, but you can leave your home to exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.”
Bearing in mind our responsibilities to others, what length of session could we reasonably justify under the heading “minimise”? A decent walk for daily exercise may be an hour or two – could we justify more than that?
Further, the government guidance on “local” is fairly restrictive:
“If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local – unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Stay local means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.”
This would seem to restrict the vast majority of would-be anglers, unless you happen to live in a town or village with a river or lake within its boundaries.
So until further, more detailed guidance is made available – or indeed test cases establish the new limits – we would suggest that before setting out to fish, you bear in mind these restrictions and examine your conscience as to whether your trip is justified.
The Angling Trust statement on the latest restrictions under Covid-19 is here
Sport England’s FAQ page on the latest lockdown restrictions is here
And the Government guidance may be found here
Hoping that you all keep safe and keep well.
In case you have missed it, or so far not taken action, we would draw your attention to the forthcoming parliamentary debate on the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill, which will be held on 15th January.
This bill is widely supported by angling organisations and reported in the relevant press, but it does need your help.
As the Angling Trust describe: “In 2019 water companies released raw sewage into our rivers more than 200,000 times, equating to more than 1.5 million hours. In September this year data from the Environment Agency revealed that not a single river in England achieved good chemical status and only 14% were classed as being of good ecological status.”
Despite this appalling record, the Bill is not government policy, but a private members bill, and so to have any chance of becoming law, needs the support of as many MPs as possible. The AT have produced a handy guide on how to email your MP to get them to back the Bill.
Please take a few minutes to help make a difference.
Wishing you a Happy New Year and may we strive for progress in 2021!