Riverfly Census Report update: hitting the mark through the appliance of science

13/06/2016

Nick Measham is delighted with the plaudits from all sides the Report has generated

The reception of the 2015 Riverfly Census by our members, the wider fishing and conservation community and the public at large has surpassed our expectations.  The media has seized on the plight of Riverflies on many rivers in the Census. Coverage has been extensive including national and regional press, radio and social media. [link to press coverage archive]

We are delighted that our (and our donors') significant investment in research is beginning to pay off. Our fundamental strategy is using science to influence agencies to act to improve the habitat for wild fish and, albeit modestly so far, it is playing out. The invertebrate-based evidence of decline in a number of highly protected SAC and SSSI rivers is incontrovertible and has been accepted by government agencies.

The next step is to develop actions to turn things round and on this we are hard at work.  Working with policy makers we are striving to determine invertebrate targets for rivers. We believe it should be possible to derive a target for the number of species of Riverflies in general, Mayflies in particular, for given types of river as well as set abundance targets for some species such as the Freshwater shrimp

We have just completed the spring sampling for our 2016 Riverfly Census. The aim is to add to the data we collected and analysed in 2015. We have added two more rivers to our original dozen – the Derbyshire Wye, the Dorset Frome and carried out a benchmark for a particular angling club on Suffolk’s River Lark. Subject to funding, we aim to extend the Census portfolio to 24 rivers by 2017.

We are keen to work with local angling associations and conservation organizations to carry out invertebrate profiles of their stretches of river.  This profiling will require a significant commitment of time and some funds but should pay huge dividends in helping to protect river invertebrate species from further decline

In short, our Riverfly survey has galvanized angler and conservationist awareness through quantifying the serious water quality problems which invertebrates (and the higher levels of the food chain – fish, birds and mammals) face on some rivers. We will continue with this strategy for as long as we can. This is why your continued support through membership and donations is critical.

Image shows Gammarus pulex © Cyril Bennett