Shocking state of English rivers revealed as all of them fail pollution tests

17 Sep
An article from The Guardian of today’s date, 17/09/2020 the content of which will be of no surprise to anglers.
Data reveals just 14% of English rivers are of ‘good’ ecological standard. 

All rivers in England have failed to meet quality tests for pollution amid concerns over the scale of sewage discharge and agricultural chemicals entering the water system.

Data published on Thursday reveals just 14% of English rivers are of “good” ecological standard. There have been no improvements in river quality since 2016 when the last data was published, despite government promises that by 2027, 75% of English rivers would be rated good.

The figures, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as part of the EU water framework directive, show for the first time that no river has achieved good chemical status, compared with 97% judged good in 2016, suggesting pollution from sewage discharge, chemicals and agriculture are having a huge impact on river quality.

 The Environment Agency chief, Emma Howard Boyd, said: “Water quality has plateaued since 2016, which isn’t good enough. There have been improvements over the last 25 years, for example, wastewater treatment works put 60% less phosphate and 70% less ammonia into the water environment than they did in 1995, but the general upward trend has not continued.“

Despite the government’s legally binding target, the new data suggest rivers are in as poor a state as six years ago.

Howard Boyd said: “Today just 14% of our rivers are [rated good]. To get where we want to be everyone needs to improve how they use water now and that means water companies, farmers, and the public.”

Guardian data revealed that raw sewage was discharged from storm overflows into English rivers for more than 1.5m hours by water companies in 2019. And the government and the EA has set up a storm overflow task force to try to tackle the growing problem of sewage pollution.

The environment minister Rebecca Pow said the water quality data published on Thursday showed urgent action was needed to reduce sewage discharge and address pollution from agriculture and chemicals. She said the data was “not comfortable reading”.

“We need to go further and faster on reducing the environmental impact from storm overflows and other sources of pollution including chemicals and agriculture,” said Pow. “More needs to be done urgently, and I met with water companies earlier this month to set out the high expectations this government has for our water environment, including in particular chalk streams.

“These results show we have a long way to go, with a new way of testing for chemicals more accurately reflecting what is in our water environment. While it’s not comfortable reading, this will allow us to plan more effectively to tackle the scourge of pollution.

“We are absolutely committed to achieving the water quality ambitions in our 25-year environment plan to improve at least three-quarters of our waters to be as close to their natural state as soon as possible.”

Dr. Janina Gray, the head of science and policy at Salmon and Trout Conservation, said English river quality was the worst in Europe. She blamed a lack of political will, lack of investment, and dramatic cuts to Environment Agency monitoring for the “depressing” picture.

“There has been absolutely no progress. Every single water body monitored by the EA in England has failed stricter new chemical standards. This means no water bodies are in overall good health.”

Spring Fish Counts!!

15 Jul

Northern rivers spring fish counts have recently been released by the Environment Agency, below are some preliminary observations:-

River Wear

Looking at the June 2020 figures of fish being counted through the Durham fish passes. It’s worrying to note that only 1186 fish were recorded which is substantially below the long term average of 1990 and even below last year’s figure of 1236 the worst year on record.

Ok, it’s early yet, but bearing in mind that netting in District 1 (Tweed to Tyne) stopped at the end of May, signs for a good season are not good.

River Tyne

Unfortunately, there are no numbers for the Tyne as the fish counter is out of operation.

River Coquet

The Coquets numbers are mixed 506 is not as good as 2019 (1236) but better than previous years so it’s too early to form an opinion as to whether the Coquets slow improvement is continuing. The Coquet, in particular, should be seeing some improvement as most of the remaining T&J netting operations are close to the Coquet estuary, but again these closed at the end of May.

Some rain and improved river levels would help. This year looks remarkably like last year, a dry spring and early summer and then a very wet autumn.

Time will tell!!

North East Fishery – Update.

18 Jun
Now that the netting season in District 1 is finished for this year, the Environment Agency on request has provided the following information:-
It appears that due to the present COVID 19 situation the EA does not as yet have access to the nets men’s logbooks and as such formal catch data may not be available till the end of the year. However, the good news is that for various reasons the EA does not anticipate a large catch of sea trout this year in District 1.
Anecdotal reports suggest the season was a poor one for nets men, partly due to temporary closures of fish markets, the reduced demand for sea trout as the hospitality industry was closed down, and the calm bright weather, which makes the nets more visible to fish, so they can better avoid them. The dry weather is also likely to have resulted in sea trout holding a little way offshore, waiting for a freshet to draw them into the estuaries.
Together with the shortened netting season reducing available fishing effort, these factors strongly indicate there will be a relatively small net catch of sea trout in District 1 in 2020.
* District 1 covers the coastal area from the River Tweed to the River Tyne.

Red Skin Disease

6 Jun

News from the Atlantic Salmon Trust:-

Reports of Red Skin Disease
Last year AST reported that there were accounts of small numbers of salmon caught in rivers across Europe, including Scotland, all exhibiting signs of a severe red rash and at times fungal infections (see here). It has been brought to the AST’s attention that this Red Skin Disease has reappeared in some areas. Following a major workshop in Norway last autumn, various laboratories have agreed to cooperate in tracing outbreaks of the disease and further analysing samples provided. Despite extensive investigations undertaken last year on retrieved specimens by the various fish health authorities, no attributable cause from an infectious agent has been established to date.

The AST asks that, when returning to the river bank, individuals stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any fish showing symptoms. If you do catch one of these fish, please do not remove it from the water and handle it as little as possible when removing the hook. Photograph the fish if you can and report the exact location of capture as soon as possible to the authorities (contact information provided on the AST website). Geographical coordinates for the position of capture from your smartphone would be particularly useful. It is also advised to follow normal biosecurity protocols and disinfect your fishing tackle, landing net, waders, and fishing jacket if they have come into contact with the fish.

At the moment this is for information only and the AST will share more news on their website & social media channels as it becomes available.