Scottish Government inertia marks anniversary of Scottish Parliament’s Environment Committee’s report into salmon farming

Scottish Government inertia marks anniversary of Scottish Parliament's Environment Committee's report into salmon farming

Industry allowed to persist with business as usual a year after Government was told 'the status quo is not an option'

One year on from the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee’s report on the Environmental Impacts of Salmon Farming, the first part of the 2018 Scottish Parliament Inquiry into the industry, Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS) is concerned that the report is being allowed to gather dust by both Scottish Government and the industry.

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of S&TCS, said:

“A year ago, the ECCLR Committee, could not have been clearer that any expansion of the industry ‘must be on the basis of a precautionary approach and must be based on resolving the environmental problems’ and that ‘the status quo is not an option’. It is obvious that almost nothing has changed and we fear that the Scottish Government’s game-plan is yet more of the prevarication that has allowed the industry to develop without meaningful regulation and at the expense of the coastal environment and those species, including migratory fish, which rely on healthy coastal ecosystems. Consequently, environmental damage is continuing and indeed increasing unchecked. Scottish Government’s completely unconditional support for the salmon farming industry must end.”

The 2018 Parliamentary Inquiry into salmon farming, as conducted by the ECCLR and REC Committees, was triggered by S&TCS' formal Petition to the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee in 2016.

Guy Linley-Adams, Solicitor for S&TCS, commented:

“The ECCLR Committee’s comprehensive report underlined why urgent action was required to protect wild salmon and sea trout. However, Scottish Government has not yet grasped the nettle and moved to legislate in order to improve markedly the protection of wild salmon and sea trout from the negative impacts of salmon farming.”

 

SSPO still failing to publish farm by farm sea lice data in as close to real time as possible

On transparency, the ECCLR Committee’s report was adamant that the industry should publish weekly data on sea lice figures on a farm by farm basis in as close to real time as possible, together with all historic data “from the time records are available”, this to be done
by the end of April 2018.

The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation has not honoured this deadline, nor is it publishing current farm by farm sea lice data in as close as possible to real time, as the Committee required. In contrast it is only publishing monthly sea lice averages per farm more than three months in arrears and it is to the Scottish Government’s shame that they have not amended secondary legislation to force transparency on this most important of issues.

Riverfly Census uncovers rare mayfly species: Brown May Dun

The Brown May Dun (Heptagenia fuscorgrisea)

As a result of our species level monitoring of riverfly life as part of our groundbreaking Riverfly Census, the highly elusive brown may dun Heptagenia fuscogrisea has recently been discovered in both the Usk (at Great Hadwick) and the Ribble (at Long Pool).

brown may dun

Significant Discovery

The rare brown may dun has a conservation status of Nationally Notable and is incredibly elusive and localised.

It is occasionally found in Dumfries, Galloway, Thames Catchment and in Ireland; but this is the first reported sighting on both the Ribble and the Usk, and possibly in Wales.

The discovery is significant due to the rare and elusive status of the brown may dun, coupled with it's susceptibility to stressors in the water which make it an excellent indicator species.
The S&TC River Fly Census is as much about protecting the habitat for these rarities and the wild fish who rely on them, as it is about highlighting and then tackling the EA over declining water quality.

 

Below: Brown May Dun information
brown may dun

 

Riverfly Census: species level monitoring

We welcome the news and are proud of the discovery, made by our commissioned independent scientist, Dr Nick Everall.

The  elusive brown may dun represents something very positive among the largely damning findings of our Riverfly Census. Yes, much work is needed to secure and enforce better protection for our rivers; but amidst this we find that our bugs are resilient little critters who continue to surprise us.

Furthermore, our high-level monitoring is proving itself a worthy and necessary investment in the work to understand and thereby better protect our waters. Without species-level analysis, this discovery would not have been made.

Indeed, this discovery promotes the power and importance of species level benchmarking for effective and professional monitoring, which is the crux of our work. We cannot (and will not) proceed without robust and in-depth scientific evidence.

 

Brown may dun & our River Invertebrate App

The rare brown may dun has been added to our unique river invertebrate app, an important resource for anglers, scientists, nature lovers and anyone interested in the life and health of their local river.

Using high quality digital images (produced by Dr Cyril Bennett MBE), the river invertebrate app shows easily identifiable features for each species, plus its pollution fingerprint and conservation value.

Rather than forking out for an expensive identification key or field guide, carrying it on the river bank, and needing to re-purchase when it becomes out of date; or app is an easily accessible, simple to use, and constantly updated resource which does the job for you.

Find out more about the River Invertebrate App.

brown may dun

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Welsh charities join forces for World Fish Migration Day

World Fish Migration Day

This Saturday we will be helping to celebrate the third World Fish Migration day. There will be a number of fascinating events and activities in Wales for people to enjoy and learn more about the life-cycle of migratory fish species.

This global initiative aims to highlight the importance of conserving migratory fish species and aquatic ecosystem. Approximately 50 countries will celebrate this inspiring day and more than 2,000 organisations are participating in the occasion, holding over 400 events ranging from dam removals and river clean-up activities to educational seminars and fishing events.

All around the world, people depend on fish for livelihoods, economic value and healthy ecosystems. But fish also depend on people, to be able to freely migrate and thrive. There are around 15,000 freshwater fish species known to migrate in some way during their life cycle including our wild salmon and sea trout. Around 1,100 of these are long-distance migratory fish that depend on free-flowing rivers to thrive, including the iconic European eel that migrates over 10,000 km between the Sargasso Sea and European.

Richard Garner Williams, National Officer for Salmon & Trout Conservation Cymru said:

“We are supporting this important initiative because it is vital that we raise awareness about the need to improve and restore our watery environments for migratory fish.

Rivers provide many services for us including water supply, hydropower, and irrigation but often these activities are carried out at high cost to the environment and migratory fish species. We would therefore urge people to attend some of the local events that are being organised in Wales as part of World Fish Migration Day. These will help all ages learn more about our rivers and importantly how we can make these safe havens for our very special fish species.”

Events being held across Wales on Saturday 21stApril for World Fish Migration Day include: 

  1. Super Sewin Saturday. Whitland Memorial Hall, Whitland, Carmarthenshire. S&TC Cymru, The West Wales Rivers Trust and natural Resources Wales. Open from: 11:00 – 14:00. Free admission. Presentations by : Dr Graeme Harris (renowned sea trout expert) - “ Welsh Sea Trout: recent developments and new questions” Dave Mee (Senior Adviser Fisheries, NRW) – “Science and the Sewin” Richard Garner Williams (S&TC Cymru) – “The Meaning of Sewin” Helen Jobson and Lloyd Williams (WWRT) – Riverfly Demonstration

Contact Richard Garner Williams    e. wales@salmon-trout.org   m. 078 0905 6152

  1. “Radyr Weir Fish Migration Day”Radyr Weir, Cardiff : South East Wales Rivers Trust, Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff Harbour Authority, Cardiff Council and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water from 10am-3pm. Entry is free, so bring the whole family along and join us for face painting, fun competitions and art and craft activities.  Pictures of work the Trust and others have carried out to improve fish migration on the River Taff, and in other areas, will be on display, along with a sample of river life. There will also be talks by organisations about their work in and along the Taff that has helped to transform a river, once blighted by industry, into one that is recognised far and wide for its fish populations, as well as wildlife.

Contact Tony Rees m. 07702435021    t. 01685723520  e. tony.rees@sewrt.org

  1. Journey with a fish up the River DeeChester Weir, Chester, The Welsh Dee Rivers Trust, Natural Resources Wales and the North Wales Wildlife Trust.  Admission is free and it runs from 11:00 – 14:00 pm
  2. Exploring the Afon Einig. Wye & Usk Fundation. The Wye and Usk Foundation’s event is at their HQ on The Square, Talgarth, Brecon LD3 0BW where they will be exploring the current status and hopes for the restoration of the Afon Ennig, a once prolific spawning ground for Wye salmon
  3. Swansea University Family Day.  This is a family day allowing families to learn about the research going on at Swansea. One of the activities will be a game illustrating the challenges faced by fish migrating downstream towards the sea. This activity will be run twice during the day so that as many attendees as possible can engage with it. Location: The Wallace Building, Singleton Park SA2 8PP

For more information on these events or World Fish Migration Day, please contact: Richard Garner Williams on email: wales@salmon-trout.org or m. 078 0905 6152 or visit the website for World Fish Migration Day at https://www.worldfishmigrationday.com

ORRI VIGF™SSON: 10 July 1942 – 1 July 2017

All at Salmon & Trout Conservation are very saddened to hear that Orri Vigfùsson has passed away. He did so much to save Atlantic salmon from the high seas netting that was such a great threat to the species, but at the same time he was determined that commercial netsmen should be properly compensated for giving up their licenses to fish for salmon. His stated objective was to "restore the abundance of wild salmon that formerly existed on both sides of the North Atlantic". That was an attitude that endeared him to both sides of the issue, and was the basis for his great success in helping to close down damaging commercial net fisheries throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Amongst his many honours, Orri was made a Vice President of the Salmon & Trout Association (as we were then called) in the 1990s.

Orri was until very recently helping members of the England Fisheries Group on the Environment Agency’s 5-point recovery action for salmon, especially over the North east English coastal nets. He will be very sadly missed by all of us in the working group, as he will be by the host of other fisheries people with whom he came into contact around the world. Our thoughts are with his widow, Unnur, and the rest of his family.

RIP to a great salmon conservationist.

Deadline extended for West Country Award that launches next generation of river conservationists

The closing date to apply for the Anne Voss-Bark Memorial Award, which aims to help young graduates studying aquatic sciences has been extended to June 14th June 2017

Now in its third year, the Anne Voss-Bark Memorial Award 2017, set up by Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) in collaboration with the Arundel Arms and Fario Club is open to young fisheries or aquatic students and offers an unbeatable opportunity to study the practical elements of river restoration and management.

Vicky Fowler, who studied biological science at Exeter University, is a previous winner of the Award and found the experience extremely beneficial to her future career. She said, “This was such a rewarding experience and it was the first time that I had appreciated how science impacts in the real world. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the practical side of river management, including conservation, catchment management, identifying funding opportunities and communicating with different stakeholders. I really did learn a huge amount.”

Vicky is now working towards gaining a PhD and is studying with the British Antarctic survey team. Her eventual aim is to stay in the aquatic conservation field but working on a very practical level.

Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science with S&TC UK, said, “Vicky is a fantastic example of why this Award is so important and offers such an amazing opportunity for young fisheries/aquatic students to gain unbeatable work experience.”

The Anne Voss-Bark Memorial Award offers students:

  • One week at the Arundell Arms, one of the country’s leading Country Sports hotel; learning hands-on fisheries management and fly-fishing from the experienced river managers and gillies.
  • One week with the West Country Rivers Trust; learning catchment management and water science from the Trusts eminent scientists.
  • £500 to cover expenses

The work experience for the winning student has been organised for week commencing 25th September 2017.

Anne Voss-Bark was a dedicated conservationist and her love of fly fishing made her aware of changes in the countryside detrimental to our rivers and fish. She worked tirelessly to see this demise reversed. Anne was a strong supporter of the S&TC UK, the only UK fisheries campaigning charity. She was a Council Member, Vice Chairman and finally Vice President of the charity. Anne, with others, also founded the West Country Rivers Trust, embracing the concept of total river management. Anne will also always be well-remembered as the perfect hostess at the Arundell Arms in Lifton, Devon, which was rather run down on acquisition but developed by her over nearly 50 years into today’s eminent fishing and country sports hotel.

Wild fish and their habitats were of great importance to Anne and the challenge for students wishing to submit an application for the Anne-Voss Bark Memorial Award, is to write a literature review on ‘Hatcheries – good or bad for wild fisheries’ (max. 2,500 words).

The Closing date for applications is 14th June 2017. To submit an entry or for further information on the Award, please contact Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science at S&TC UK by email on: janina@salmon-trout.org .

Photocaption: Vicky Fowler receiving her Anne Voss-Bark Award from S&TC UK trustee Anthony Bird

Notes to editors:

Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) was established as the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) in 1903 to address the damage done to our rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Throughout its history and to the present day, S&TC UK has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment for the public benefit. S&TC UK has charitable status in England, Wales and Scotland and its charitable objectives empower it to address all issues affecting fish and the aquatic environment, supported by robust evidence from its scientific network, and to take the widest possible remit in protecting salmonid fish stocks and the aquatic environment upon which they depend. www.salmon-trout.org

James Ronald Carr, OBE (1946-2017)

It is with great sadness that we have to report that James Carr, former Chairman of S&TA, passed away earlier this month after a long, sustained struggle against an aggressive illness. Over the past two years, James astounded us all with the amazingly positive attitude with which he faced the ‘challenge’, as he put it to us recently, and it is very cruel that he finally had to succumb to it. Our thoughts are with his wife, Jocelyn, and daughters Octavia and Leonora.

James was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to conservation, education and the community, and he was presented with the award in March by S&TC’s Patron, The Prince of Wales. Below is our tribute to James when his OBE was announced.

“James, who was Chairman between 2006 and 2012, oversaw S&TA’s move to charitable status in 2008. He became one of the first Trustees, taking the position of Chairman of the Trustees until his retirement from that position in 2012. He continued as a Trustee on the Board until 2015.

With James’s Chairmanship coinciding with our formative years as a charity, his contribution was particularly important during this time. He combined a businessman and accountant’s financial knowledge and experience with an unusually wide-ranging appreciation of the major fisheries issues that we addressed at the time. This came not only from his work with S&TA over many years on Council, Executive and issue committees, but also from his time spent as Chairman of the Environment Agency’s North West Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee, which allowed him a deep insight into the freshwater fisheries world.

James Carr’s financial acumen and fisheries knowledge have been invaluable to us over many years, and all of his work for us has, of course, been on a purely voluntary basis. We cannot think of a better way to mark his contribution than for him to receive a national Honour.”

James was a great country sportsman and loved his salmon fishing. His final day’s fishing was at the end of last season on the Tweed where, on his very last cast, he hooked and landed an estimated 26lbs hen fish, which he duly returned unharmed to the river so that she could help spawn the next generation. It was his fervent hope that the UK’s salmon population would one day thrive again as it had done when he was younger – a cause about which he was passionate and spent so much of his time trying to achieve.

A Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate his life will be held in June, at which S&TC will be represented. James will be very sorely missed by all of us who had the pleasure of working with him over many years.

2016 catch statistics underline pinch points in wild salmon and sea trout numbers

Sea trout catch in legendary west Highland fishery now down to a baker’s dozen

Scottish Government has today published the annual catch data for salmon and sea trout for 2016. The headline figures are:

  • The 2016 rod catch of salmon was 55,109, compared to 54,969 in 2014 and 45,175 in 2013. The five year average (2011-2015) stands at 68,308 and the ten year average (2006-2015) is 78,744.
  • The 2016 rod catch of sea trout was 18,054 – the third lowest figure on record and 84 % of the five year average.

Andrew Graham-Stewart, Director of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland (S&TCS), said:

“Salmon catches remain in the doldrums. The depressing numbers reflect poor returns in late summer and autumn. Whilst what happens at sea, in other words distant marine survival, is largely beyond our control, the importance of maximizing the number of juvenile salmon reaching the open sea is paramount. This means minimizing predation within rivers, which Scottish Government can facilitate, and also Scottish Government cracking down on poor sea lice control at salmon farms, which has decimated salmon returns in most of the west Highlands and Islands.”

Andrew Graham-Stewart continued:

“Whilst there has been a decline in sea trout numbers in much of Scotland, only in the salmon farming areas of the west Highlands and Islands situation has there been an almost total collapse. Remedying this is very much in Scottish Government’s gift. Juvenile sea trout, which remain within coastal waters, are highly vulnerable to sea lice spreading from salmon farms acting as lice production units. The young sea trout are eaten alive. Scottish Government must act to tighten the regulation of salmon farming, in particular the control of sea lice with the express purpose of protecting wild fish from infestation.”

“It is truly shocking and an indictment of Government policy that the River Ewe and Loch Maree, historically the most famous sea trout fishery in Europe, producing prodigious catches, reported a sea trout catch of just 13 in 2016. By comparison the catch in 1987, the last year prior to the devastating influence of salmon farming, was over 1700. We have seen a virtual wipe-out. S&TCS recently launched a campaign to restore sea trout numbers in the River Ewe and Loch Maree. The solution is simple – the removal of the Marine Harvest salmon farm from Loch Ewe.”

In 2015 S&TCS raised a formal Petition to the Scottish Parliament, which seeks to change the law, firstly to require immediate culls or harvesting of farmed salmon where sea lice numbers have effectively gone out of control and secondly to give fish farm inspectors the legal duty to control sea lice on fish farms, expressly to protect wild fish populations from juvenile sea lice infestation from marine cage fish farms. The Petition is currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

In March S&TCS released the short film “Eaten alive – the demise of Loch Maree” – https://www.salmon-trout.org/loch-maree/video/9

Issued by Andrew Graham-Stewart (telephone 01863 766767 or 07812 981531) on behalf of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland.

Notes for editors

1) Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) was established as the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) in 1903 to address the damage done to our rivers by the polluting effects of the Industrial Revolution. Since then, S&TC UK has worked to protect fisheries, fish stocks and the wider aquatic environment for the public benefit. S&TC UK has charitable status in both England and Scotland (as S&TCS) and its charitable objectives empower it to address all issues affecting fish and the aquatic environment, supported by robust evidence from its scientific network, and to take the widest possible remit in protecting salmonid fish stocks and the aquatic environment upon which they depend. www.salmon-trout.org www.salmon-troutscotland.org

2) Scottish Government action required

Fisheries scientists – including the Scottish Government’s own scientists – are firm in their conclusions that sea lice produced on fish-farms harm wild salmon and sea trout, both at an individual and at a population level. However, S&TCS believes that these threats are not being addressed by effective regulation and control of sea lice numbers on fish-farms in Scotland, which are essential to protect wild fish populations, many already significantly reduced. In 2015, the S&TCS raised a formal Petition to the Scottish Parliament, which seeks to change the law, firstly to require immediate culls or harvesting of farmed where sea lice numbers have effectively gone out of control and secondly to give fish farm inspectors the legal duty to control sea lice on fish farms, expressly to protect wild fish populations from juvenile sea lice infestation from marine cage fish farms. The Petition is currently being considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.

3) Just what is the problem with sea lice?

Adult wild salmon are perfectly adapted to coping with a few sea lice. Background levels of these parasites occur naturally in the sea. However the advent of salmon farming, particularly in fjordic or largely enclosed sea lochs, has led to a fundamental change in the density and occurrence of sea lice in parts of the coastal waters of the west Highlands and Islands. Even one or two mature female sea lice per fish within a set of cages housing hundreds of thousands of farmed salmon amounts to a rampant breeding reservoir pumping huge numbers of mobile juvenile sea lice out into the local marine environment. The consequences when wild salmon and sea trout smolts, the metamorphosing fragile skin of which is not adapted to cope with more than the odd louse, migrate from local rivers into this “sea lice soup” can be devastating.

Carrying an unnaturally high burden of sea lice is known to compromise severely the survival of juvenile migratory salmonids. Lice feed by grazing on the surface of the fish and eating the mucous and skin. Large numbers of lice soon cause the loss of fins, severe scarring, secondary infections and, in time, death. Quite literally, the fish are eaten alive. Badly infested salmon smolts disappear out to sea, never to be seen again. In contrast afflicted sea trout smolts remain within the locality and they, together with the impact of the deadly burdens they carry, are more easily monitored through sweep net operations.

The 2016 paper Aquaculture and environmental drivers of salmon lice infestation and body condition in sea trout (Shephard et al, Aquaculture Environment Interactions) analysed a 25 yr dataset of lice counts from >20 000 sea trout sampled from 94 separate river and lake systems in Ireland and Scotland at varying distances from marine salmon farms and concluded that “sea trout captured closer to salmon farms had significantly higher levels of lice infestation, and that this effect was exacerbated in warmer years. Sea trout sampled closer to salmon farms also had significantly reduced weight at length (impaired condition), with the strongest impact in dry years”.

See http://www.int-res.com/articles/aei2016/8/q008p597.pdf

West Country Award launches next generation of river conservationists

Now in its third year, the Anne Voss-Bark Memorial Award 2017, set up by Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) in collaboration with the Arundel Arms and Fario Club is now open to young fisheries or aquatic students and offers an unbeatable opportunity to study the practical elements of river restoration and management.

Vicky Fowler, from Holmfirth, Yorkshire who studied biological science at Exeter University, is a previous winner of the Award and found the experience extremely beneficial in her future career. She said, “This was such a rewarding experience and it was the first time that I had appreciated how science impacts in the real world. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the practical side of river management, including conservation, catchment management, identifying funding opportunities and communicating with different stakeholders. I really did learn a huge amount.”

Vicky is now working towards gaining a PhD and is studying with the British Antarctic survey team. Her eventual aim is to stay in the aquatic conservation field but working on a very practical level.

Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science with S&TC UK, said, “Vicky is a fantastic example of why this Award is so important and offers such an amazing opportunity for young fisheries/aquatic students to gain unbeatable work experience.”

The Anne Voss-Bark Memorial Award offers students:

• One week at the Arundell Arms, one of the country’s leading Country Sports hotel; learning hands-on fisheries management and fly-fishing from the experienced river managers and gillies.

• One week with the West Country Rivers Trust; learning catchment management and water science from the Trusts eminent scientists.

• _500

The work experience for the winning student has been organised for week commencing 25th September 2017.

Anne Voss-Bark was a dedicated conservationist and her love of fly fishing made her aware of changes in the countryside detrimental to our rivers and fish. She worked tirelessly to see this demise reversed. Anne was a strong supporter of the S&TC UK, the only UK fisheries campaigning charity. She was a Council Member, Vice Chairman and finally Vice President of the charity. Anne, with others, also founded the West Country Rivers Trust, embracing the concept of total river management. Anne will also always be well-remembered as the perfect hostess at the Arundell Arms in Lifton, Devon, which was rather run down on acquisition but developed by her over nearly 50 years into today’s eminent fishing and country sports hotel.

Wild fish and their habitats were of great importance to Anne and the challenge for students wishing to submit an application for the Anne-Voss Bark Memorial Award, is to write a literature review on ‘Hatcheries – good or bad for wild fisheries’ (max. 2,500 words).

The Closing date for applications is 31st May 2017. To submit an entry or for further information on the Award, please contact Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science at S&TC UK by email on: janina@salmon-trout.org .

Photocaption: Pictured: Vicky Fowler studying to gain a PhD was a previous winner of the Anne-Voss Bark Memorial Award, and she would encourage other students to enter as she found the very practical nature of the prize hugely beneficial in deciding her future career path.

New initiative helps to secure a brighter future for the iconic Test and Itchen

Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) who are continuing their national Riverfly Census across the country this year will be working closely with the Test and Itchen Association, who have agreed to fund the continuation of its scientific surveys on the Test and Itchen chalkstreams in 2017.

This important river survey involves collecting river invertebrate samples at a number of different sites on these two iconic chalk rivers this spring and autumn. The results, which are analysed down to species level, not only provide a benchmark for future ecological surveys, it also helps to highlight the causes and sources of any damaging pollutants, which can adversely impact on invertebrate species richness and abundance and ultimately the health of these two rivers.

River flies play a vital role in a river’s food chain – lose them, and ultimately other aquatic wildlife, including wild fish, mammals and birds will follow. The S&TC UK’s Riverfly Census on the Test and Itchen will be a vital step to identify any underlying damaging impacts from sources such as agricultural and road run-off, poorly treated sewage, septic tanks and discharges from watercress and fish farms.

Jeremy Legge, Director of the Test and Itchen Association said, “While S&TC bring a national perspective and an established and respected scientific methodology, the Test and Itchen Association and Wessex Chalk Streams and Rivers Trust bring the local contacts, knowledge and enthusiasm of river owners, fisherman and environmentalists. We all have a direct stake in the future health of the iconic Hampshire chalkstream environment and the fisheries it supports.

“This combination of national and local interests is a potentially powerful one which S&TC UK will be looking to replicate elsewhere in the country when continuing their Riverfly Census work. For the Test and Itchen Association, it is an opportunity to build the experience and expertise of local volunteer invertebrate monitors to enable them to continue this survey work in the future to professional standards. We can only really look after our rivers if we properly understand the problems that they face.”

Nick Measham, from S&TC UK said, “We are delighted to be working with the Test & Itchen Association and they should be congratulated for their insight and action to ensure the future health of these two rivers. Our 2015 Riverfly Census, identified that there were only 14 pristine, unimpacted sites out of a total of 120 sites sampled in the survey on rivers across England. Regrettably this earlier survey on the River Test, which is an SSSI (one of our highest conservation classifications) showed that flylife is below that expected of a pristine river with many significant species impoverished and rarer species absent. We will are therefore keen to continue our survey this year to identify how the condition of the river has changed.”

Jeremy Legge continues, “The Test and Itchen Association is delighted to support the continuation of S&TC UK’s work on our two rivers in 2017 as well as extending it to the Meon for the first time. The work on the Meon will be done in conjunction with the Wessex Chalk Streams and Rivers Trust. This detailed analysis of our rivers is a vital step in helping us understand the reasons behind the worrying decline of river flies on our Hampshire chalk streams. Once the reasons for the decline are properly understood, remedial work can be effectively targeted to help restore our rivers to their former pristine condition.”

Picture Caption: Pictured: The Bourne Rivulet. picture credit Simon Cain. The loss of river fly invertebrates such as Blue-Winged Olives is an early warning that our rivers are suffering from the effects of pollution. A scientific survey by Salmon & Trout Conservation UK and funded by the Test & Itchen Association aims to investigate how the Test and Itchen chalkstreams are faring.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

WILDLIFE THREATENED BY POST-BREXIT ENVIRONMENTAL SUBSIDY CUTS

Simon Barnes is spot-on about post-Brexit agricultural payments and future environmental protection (Magazine, January 22)

I have great sympathy with farmers who are asked to produce abundant cheap food while at the same time protecting vulnerable wildlife and habitats. We are particularly interested in the protection of rivers and water-dependent wildlife post-Brexit, an issue too often ignored. Our research shows that sediment excess phosphate and pollution, much of it resulting from poor soil management have a devastating effect on many English and Welsh rivers to the detriment of wild fish, insects, birds and mammals. There are solutions and we know that many farmers are willing to be part of them. However, as Barnes states there must be financial incentives for them to continue to protect the environment and rewards for successful initiatives. But whatever agri-environment subsidy system is adopted, it is vital that we put more resources into protecting our precious aquatic wildlife. If not, there will be adverse effects on us all.

Paul Knight, CEO, Salmon & Trout Conservation UK