SATURDAYS see the good people at The Angling Trust, the single organisation to represent all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in this country, take over our blog.
Angling Trust chief executive, Mark Lloyd brings you this week’s blog.
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How well is the Agency responding to fish kills in your area?
POLLUTERS often try to downplay the damage they cause to fisheries. Why put your hands up to killing 1000 fish when you could argue only 100 were killed?
When fighting a case for one our members, Fish Legal looks to the regulator to properly investigate after a fish kill is reported. The Environment Agency is usually on the bank after a pollution and are best placed and qualified to collect evidence.
Anglers may assume that a fish kill survey report would be produced as a matter of course. Estimates and notepad jottings are no substitute for a proper survey report when it comes to showing what damage has really been caused.
Surprisingly, a full fish kill survey report in response to a fish kill is relatively rare, however.
We recently asked the Environment Agency to reveal how many pollution incidents in the last 5 years had a recorded fish kill and, of those, how many were investigated and a fish kill survey report produced. The responses from all 22 fisheries departments are shown in the map (below/to the left?)
Coming out on top was South West Wales with a creditable 81% rate of fish kill surveys reports as part of their post-pollution investigation. However, most areas failed to carry out a survey report even half the time. Those unfortunate anglers with fishing in East Midlands, Cornwall, North and South Wessex will be disappointed to learn that not one fish kill survey report was produced between 2005 -2011. The map overall shows a pretty bleak picture.
We believe that the Agency is showing insufficient focus on the impact of acute pollution on fisheries and fisheries interests. This may be because prosecutions of technical breaches of permits do not require detailed fisheries impacts to prove guilt. It may be that with cuts across government the Agency’s resources are too stretched to fully investigate fish kills.
But anglers, who contribute in excess of £25 million pounds in rod licence money to the Agency and who invest considerable sums in their fisheries on top, may think that making polluters accountable for the harm they cause by gathering good evidence is a worthwhile use of Environment Agency resources.
Without proper investigation and reporting, anglers are being let down by the regulator and left to find other methods to show how badly their waters and their fishing has suffered.
The polluters, meanwhile, can carry on getting away with murder.
Rest assured that the Angling Trust and Fish Legal will carry on fighting to protect fish and fishing.
Please support our campaign by joining our growing membership at www.anglingtrust.net
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