Tag Archives: fish

Climate change – a real issue for the future of fish and fishing

12 May

Our fish face many threats, with which we are all too familiar.  Sewage and agricultural pollution, low flows in rivers, commercial overfishing at sea, and unsustainable predation are the rule rather than the exception.  This month I want to highlight the potential impact of a changing climate on fish stocks, and hence on the availability of quality fishing.  All serious scientists agree that global temperatures are rising as a result of human activity (burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests and releasing methane from agricultural sources).  Even if we take concerted global action, temperatures look set to rise by at least 2 degrees centigrade.  This may not sound much, but it will have disastrous consequences for our way of life, and on fish and fishing.

Many people think that climate change will only affect delicate fish like trout and grayling, but it will also have a huge impact on coarse fish as well.  One of the biggest threats to carp is Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) and the UK has seen numerous outbreaks of this vicious disease in recent years which have led to fisheries being closed and huge numbers of dead fish being dumped into the ground.  KHV thrives in warm water and all the recent outbreaks have coincided with years when summer temperatures have been slightly above average.

Rising temperatures will makes sea levels rise due to the expansion of sea water and melting icecaps, coupled with deeper low pressure systems which lead to storm surges.  In recent years, there have been more and more saltwater incursions to the Norfolk Broads, which have led to hundreds of thousands of coarse fish keeling over.  These incursions will become far more common in low lying areas and estuaries, which are often the most productive coarse fisheries.

The impact of climate on sea fishing is uncertain.  What is certain is that fishing will change as fish migrate to find optimum conditions.  It’s likely that warmer waters will cause more poisonous algal blooms, fuelled by fertilisers washed off farmers’ fields.  As crops fail, there will also be greater economic and political pressure to exploit fish stocks even more unsustainably to feed a growing global population.

River full of soil

The River Wye in spate, full of soil. This will only get worse with climate change.

Salmon are already nearing the edge of their natural range in the south of the UK.  Rising temperatures, coupled with low flows, could lead to their extinction in Southern England and Wales.  Sea survival of salmon has plummeted in the past 40 years from around 30% in the 1970s to a handful of percent today.  The truth is we don’t know why, but several years of skinny grilse indicated that the fish were going to sea and not finding the food they had come to expect over millennia due to a warming Arctic Ocean.  These fish have survived for millions of years through much bigger climate fluctuations than 2 degrees, but it’s the speed of modern climate change that makes it harder for them to adapt.  As they move further north, we lose a heritage and a tradition.

Once famous salmon rivers like the Tamar, Hampshire Avon, Test and Itchen could see their stocks wiped out within the lifetime of young anglers who are just learning the art of speycasting today.

All freshwater fish, and particularly sensitive species such as trout and grayling, will suffer from warmer water in the summer months.  As water temperature increases, oxygen levels plummet, and rivers and lakes are much more susceptible to pollution incidents.  Rainfall patterns are likely to change, with more intense rainstorms causing damaging floods which destroy fish eggs and wash fish downstream and onto floodplains where they die in the fields.  More sporadic rain will probably cause more droughts which concentrate pollutants, reduce dissolved oxygen, reduce the wetted area of riverbed which provides food, and give predators a field day.

To respond to this threat, the Angling Trust has joined the Climate Coalition, which is a group of diverse organisations calling for real action on climate change by governments the world over.  Of course, climate change should be of concern to us all because of the impact it will have on our lives in so many ways, but highlighting the potential damage to our precious fish and fishing is a way of demonstrating how far-reaching that impact will be.

Speak_Up_Logo

We are therefore encouraging anglers to back this campaign to call on governments to help make nature more resilient to climate change by reducing other pressures on natural systems, and to take action to reduce emissions which are causing the world to warm.

We can’t any longer pretend that Climate Change isn’t going to happen, or that we are powerless to prepare for it.  We must all take urgent action to stop it being worse than it needs to be.

If you want to get involved in the huge Speak Up rally in London on Wednesday 17th June then please click HERE for more details. Why not go along and speak up for the love of fish and fishing.

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A new dawn for online angling politics?

6 Jan
Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark LLoyd

Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd

In the autumn, I wrote an editorial in our members’ magazine The Angler entitled “Let’s agree to disagree”. I had got frustrated with online angling forums which seemed to me to be damaging the reputation of angling in the public eye and stifling real debate because of the behaviour of a small, dominant minority who are intent on bickering with each other publicly. I was therefore delighted to read that World Sea Fishing is going to change the format of its political forums, which have all too often descended into a slanging match. You can read the announcement here http://www.worldseafishing.com/forums/threads/new-rsa-politics-forum.3123999/

Our sport faces some very serious threats, including crashing fish stocks, local angling bans, denial of access and a lack of recruitment of young people. How we respond to these threats requires serious discussion that is properly moderated. As the representative and national governing body for all forms of angling in England, working closely with our equivalent bodies in Scotland and Wales, the Angling Trust is fighting for the interests of anglers every day.

When we meet Ministers and officials, we need to know what anglers really think. It is really useful to us to hear what sensible and serious people think. Our members frequently write to us with their views about what we should be doing for them, and we have a number of freshwater and sea angling regions around the country which hold meetings for our members to discuss issues of local importance to them. Over the past year, we have been campaigning hard and taking legal action on a whole host of issues which reflect what our members have told us they want us to do: bass stocks, access to angling, dredging, fracking, salmon stocks, cormorant predation, poaching, unlawful canoeing and many others. We will continue to do what we can to tackle the most important issues affecting fish and fishing.

When we meet with Ministers we need to know what you think

When we meet with Ministers we need to know what you think

Well-managed online discussions could be another tool to help us do our job even more effectively. Unfortunately there is a limit to the time we can spend participating in forums – we have very limited staff resources – but if they were run well and people stick to the rules, then they could make a positive contribution to discussion and highlight things that we need to take on.

Angling politics forums in the UK often make grim reading. Someone starts a thread and for the first few pages there is a perfectly reasonable discussion until two people disagree with each other so fundamentally that they launch into a tirade of personal insults and abuse. These spats can become long-running battles which spill into every other thread with which either of the people gets involved.

The end results are not only boring for the rest of us, but they destroy the foundation of reasoned debate and give an appalling impression to people who think that these views are representative of our community. These comments must surely make people who are getting into angling for the first time, and perhaps turning to forums for some helpful advice, think twice about taking up the sport.

I think it’s time to clean up our act, and I hope that this new forum will enable people who really care about the future of recreational sea angling to share their views without fear of harassment and participate in constructive and useful discussions about the future.

Now that World Sea Fishing Forums have changed their approach, perhaps others might follow suit? We’ll certainly be watching to see how it works in practice. Here’s hoping for a more harmonious and constructive debate in 2015!

With all best wishes for 2015 from everyone at the Angling Trust and Fish Legal.

Mark Lloyd

Chief Executive

Angling Trust & Fish Legal

Two early Christmas presents from the Angling Trust to you

23 Dec

This week I want to write about two new resources that the Angling Trust has made available to anglers, free of charge, on the internet.

1. First, there’s our new web site at www.fishinginfo.co.uk that we have produced in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Met Office. It has a massive amount information about fishing venues; angling clubs; tackle shops; river heights; and the past, present and future weather conditions. All this is set out in a brilliant mapping system that allows you to switch between aerial views and maps.  When I plan a fishing trip, I have to go to several web sites to get all the necessary information.  The idea of this site is that all those sites are combined into one to make it easier for more people to go fishing more often.  I’m know a lot about the fishing in my area, but found some new venues just a short drive from my house that I am now looking forward to trying out.

www.fishinginfo.co.uk

http://www.FishingInfo.co.uk – register for FREE and start saving your favourite fishing locations today!

We are just ‘soft launching’ this at the moment, to iron out any bugs and to get all the information on the site up to date.  Please check it out and if you spot a fishery, club or tackle shop with out of date information, then please use the Feedback option on each entry to let us know and we will update their details on the site.  Angling Trust member clubs, fisheries and trade members will get an enhanced listing and will be able to update their details online at any time.

We’ll then be launching the site in March 2014 and it will be publicised by email and post to all anglers who have bought a rod licence in the past two years.  This means that millions of anglers will be alerted to it, and we are likely to get a lot of hits, so if you own a fishery or tackle shop, make sure your website, phone number, opening times etc. are all up to date.

The Angler

The Angler – Autumn 2014 edition is now online!

2. One of the many benefits of being a member of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal is that you get sent our magazine twice a year, free of charge.  We have been putting a lot of work into making it more interesting and readable, based on feedback from our members and have also now put it online for the benefit of non-members as well.  You can read articles by angling luminaries such as Dave Harrell, Brian Clarke, Henry Gilbey and John Horsey here: The Angler online edition, as well as a review of campaign news from the Angling Trust and legal victories from Fish Legal.   We’re aware of some things which didn’t quite work, and we’ll be putting them right in the next copy due out in the spring, but the latest edition, which runs to 76 pages, is the best we have ever produced.  Please send any feedback to admin@anglingtrust.net and this will be useful to us as we work on the next edition.  If you want to get the paper copy of the magazine, please join us at www.anglingtrust.net/join or sign someone else up as a last minute Christmas present!

Finally, I would like to wish all the readers of this blog a very Merry Christmas and a Fishy 2014.  I’ll be writing a review of 2013 and a look forward to next year in a week’s time, so come back and visit then.  Thanks to all of you who have supported us with membership and donations and for those who haven’t, how about making that one of your new year resolutions?

p.s. Don’t forget you can also keep in touch with what is going on with the Angling Trust via our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnglingTrust and also via our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/AnglingTrust .

“The Angling Trust – what have they ever done for me?”

19 Dec

One of the frustrating things about running the Angling Trust is that we often do really important work to protect fish and fishing and the vast majority of anglers are completely unaware of what we have been doing on their behalf. Often it is just not newsworthy enough to get any attention from the angling press and even if it does, there are hundreds of thousands of anglers who never buy an angling publication. So, this week I’m going to share some briefings that we have done jointly with other organisation to try and get some last minute improvements to the Water Bill, which we think has so far failed to include enough measures to address the many problems facing our water environment.

Anyone who fishes on rivers could benefit from this work over the coming decades as we believe that we’ve had real influence that we hope will lead directly to changes that will improve flows and water quality which are vital to fish stocks. Low flows and pollution mean that fish have less food and are less likely to breed and create fish stocks of the future. This work isn’t sexy, but it is vitally important for the future of fishing.

The Angling Trust has worked closely with the RSPB, WWF and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management to put together a series of briefings to MPs and the committees scrutinising the Bill as it passes through the Houses of Parliament. The fact that we are working alongside these organisations is a sign that the Angling Trust is recognised as a serious and respected organisation that has genuine political influence. We have far fewer members than the RSPB and WWF, but we represent a powerful political constituency, and our membership is gradually growing in all categories.

Specific briefings were submitted, with various partners, on amendments concerning:
1. Fracking
2. Abstraction Reform
3. Metering
4. A sustainable development duty for OFWAT
5. Upstream competition safeguards

Please click on the links above to download the relevant briefing as a small pdf document to see what we have been doing on your behalf.

We can only do this with the support of a (slowly) growing number of anglers who pay us subscriptions and make donations to support our work.

As an angler in England, we hope you feel compelled to join us and lend your voice and support –  visit www.anglingtrust.net or call us during office hours on 01568 620447. We now have a direct debit option that will only cost you £2.50  month, please take advantage of this easy way to pay and spread the cost over a whole year. Thank you.

Canoe Trespass Must Be Tackled

2 Dec
angler with canoes

Angler with canoes

We have been very busy over the past few months working on the issue of canoe access in both England and Wales and we need your help (see how at the bottom of this blog). It’s important to state up front that the Angling Trust is not anti-canoeing, and we think that there should be more canoe access to rivers where appropriate, but we simply believe that access should be controlled so that it doesn’t damage fish and fishing. We live on a small island with 60 million other people and we need rules to avoid conflict between users of natural resources. Anglers have close seasons, bylaws and other restrictions on what we can do and where we can go (and we pay licences and permits). Why shouldn’t paddlers?

This week, we have launched a major dossier of evidence documenting the rise of unlawful canoeing, the role of the UK’s Canoeing Governing Bodies in blocking the England and Wales Governments’ policy of Voluntary Access Agreements and the impact on fisheries, anglers, angling clubs and riparian owners. Please CLICK HERE to read the press release and download the dossier and please spread the word.

Last week, the Angling Trust and other partners launched the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (www.accesscymru.org) in response to proposals being mooted by the Welsh Government for universal access for canoes to all rivers in Wales. We heard yesterday that the green paper on this subject that was going to be launched this autumn has now been put back until late January at the earliest. We believe that this is a result of our campaign and the hundreds of letters that have been sent to Assembly Members by anglers, farmers and landowners, but we need to keep up the pressure.

How can YOU help?
To support this initiative, please visit the web site and sign up as a supporter, which takes less than 1 minute. There are also instructions about how to contact the politicians in Wales if you have time to do a bit more. Even if you don’t fish in Wales, this is important for you too, because it could be the thin end of the wedge for a similar policy in England…

And finally…

I couldn’t help notice on a well-known canoe campaign forum the following exchange:

“Fair play to the Anglers for getting organised, calling the troops to arms and setting out a stratergy for members / interested parties to follow. I think they are wrong, but fair play to them for recognising what needs to be done to fight their corner, and then getting off their backsides and doing it.”

“Unlike us they have a representative organisation that is run by anglers, whereas we have a representative organisation run by people in suits who don’t paddle.”

No comment!

Please join us for £2.50 a month, less than the cost of a pint, by visiting www.anglingtrust.net/join We fight to protect your fish and fishing!

Is angling good for your health?

11 Nov

The Angling Trust is having a bit of a struggle getting angling recognised as being worthy of charitable status. We’ve been struggling with this for several years, writing repeatedly to the Charity Commission to make our case, not getting replies within promised timescales, and then writing again to make our case once more. Although there are plenty of organisations that can get charitable status for work which uses angling for the benefit of young people (such as our friends at Get Hooked on Fishing) or for the benefit of people who have served in the armed forces (such as Fishing for Heroes) or for anglers supporting environmental improvement (such as the Salmon & Trout Association), it is not possible to get it for simply promoting angling as a sport. In fact, the Charity Commission actually lists angling specifically as an example of a sport which is not regarded as a sport because it is not ‘healthy’.

This is an important battle to win. It’s not just that we don’t like being listed as an unhealthy activity; charitable status would be a real practical boost to angling clubs and organisations working for the good of angling. It would mean that they could get tax credits on donations and subscriptions for example, so that they would have more money to do what they do. At a time when resources are tight, we need to do everything we can to maximise income to support work that is helping to deliver our National Angling Strategy which aims to get more people fishing more often.

We’ve made great progress over the past 10 years in angling by getting Sport England to recognise us as a sport, and to fund our angling participation work, but it is clear that many people still see angling as an unhealthy and sedentary activity. It’s true that there are some forms of angling which do not require much exertion, but there are many others that involve long walks and repeated vigorous casting that leave you feeling absolutely exhausted by the evening. I’d like to take some of those commissioners out for a day fishing on the Findhorn – it involves a 4 mile walk, some quite challenging rock climbing and occasional swimming (usually accidental!). We’re all aware of the psychological benefits of fishing as well, and the mental challenge it offers. When I go fishing I find myself completely absorbed in another world, thinking only about how to catch fish. The stress and strain of working life melt away and I quite simply feel better in myself.

Of course angling is good for your health, we all know that, but they don’t know it because angling is invisible to people who don’t do it. We conceal ourselves behind bushes in camouflage clothing and try to find the most remote places away from other people, because that’s the best way to catch more fish. In fact, all the most active types of fishing are the ones which people don’t usually see.

The Angling Trust is doing a lot of work to promote the positive, healthy, wholesome side of angling to try and change attitudes towards our sport. Attitudes matter, because they make affect people when they are drafting bad policy that damages our ability to enjoy our pastime, and to help others discover its many joys.

We will keep fighting to protect the image, as well as the reality, of angling.

To support the Angling Trust, visit www.anglingtrust.net/join and spend less than 5 minutes signing up as a member. You can now join for as little as £2.50 a month, less than the price of a pint of beer, or a 2 litre carton of freshly-squeezed orange juice.

What has the Angling Trust ever done for us?

12 Feb

A lot of anglers ask me what the Angling Trust and Fish Legal do that will benefit them.  We spent an hour in the office compiling a list of our aims, and some of the things we’ve achieved recently for the benefit of everyone who picks up a rod.  Please read this list, and if you’re not a member, join us today for just £25 so that we can add to this list.  If you’re already a member, please send a link to this page to every angler you know and let them know that they should support what we do as well.

 

Angling Trust & Fish Legal: Fighting for Fish and Fishing

•             Improving and protecting fish stocks

•             Providing a strong and unified voice for angling

•             Promoting the benefits of angling for all

•             Standing up for the environment

•             Making polluters pay

•             Supporting excellence in angling

 

What have we achieved?

•             Won an injunction to stop a major hydropower scheme on the River Trent that was licensed to kill over 100 fish a day.

•             Won a judicial review of the government’s river basin management plans in 2011 and secured £100m of new funding for improving rivers.

•             Won significant new government funding to get more people fishing.

•             Consulted 30,000 anglers and 780 organisations in bringing forward the first ever National Angling Strategy.

•             Reduced poaching by educating Eastern European anglers about how to fish legally.

•             Recruited 100 volunteer bailiffs in a pilot scheme that will be rolled out nationally.

•             Won review by DEFRA of cormorant licensing and the bass minimum landing size.

•             Secured support from the Environment Minister for keeping canoeing restricted to rivers with a public right of navigation and stretches with voluntary access agreements.

•             Fought off accusations by the MMO that recreational sea anglers sell their catch.

•             Managed and delivered over 200 major competitions and supported our England teams to win 6 gold, 5 silver and 10 bronze medals at world championships and home internationals in 2012.

•             Beat off angling bans and restrictions and fought against the sell-off of CEMEX lakes and other waters to non-angling interests.

•             Trained 1,300 coaches and helped introduce approximately 100,000 people to angling in the past four years.

•             Set up 35 County Angling Action Groups to organise projects to get more people fishing more often.

•             Helped 91 clubs get Clubmark accreditation to help them get funding for angling participation work.

•             Secured a ban of the sale of invasive plants such as floating pennywort.

•             Provided free legal advice to 220 Fish Legal member clubs and fisheries in the last twelve months and continued to fight 50 separate legal cases.

•             Introduced new benefits and discounts for members.

•             Represented anglers on about 25 different working groups and stakeholder forums at national and international level.

 

Please help us do more of this and join today at www.anglingtrust.net