THE Barbel Society is calling on angling’s governing body The Angling Trust to help save barbel stocks.
In an open letter to the Press, Barbel Society chairman Steve Pope says the Trust must use their close contacts and influence with the Environment Agency to improve stocks.
The letter states: “It is with great concern that I put pen to paper with regard to what we see as the significant, in some cases irreversible, decline of the barbel populations on many rivers in the UK.
“Over the past 20 years the decline has become very evident to barbel anglers, though strong groups of barbel in some areas often masked a barbel population in steady decline.
Steve continued: “The River Teme, Kennet, Thames, Great Ouse, Cherwell, Wensum, Bristol Avon, Severn, Yorkshire Ouse and Swale to name but a few are now shadows of their former selves due to poor recruitment, predation, pollution, habitat loss, parasite infestation and abstraction.
“I would ask you to influence the EA, various Rivers Trusts, the Canals and Rivers Trust and Natural England into formulating some sort of investigation and action plan.
“The situation is dire and will ultimately result in many rivers being devoid of barbel,” it concluded.
And Steve told Angler’s Mail: “We are focusing on the effects of predation and our first subject is otters. We will be enlisting the help of the whole angling community.
“We are inviting the Trust as our representative body to assist and take up the fight to save our barbel rivers from further decimation.
“Also we are totally aligned to Predator Action Group and we will be doing all we can for the benefit of anglers.
“We have to leave a proper legacy otherwise we will be judged very badly in years to come,” added the specialist group‘s main man.
‘Significant declines’ in barbel stocks
The Angling Trust has replied to the Barbel Society, and is keen to work jointly to the benefit of fish stocks.
Martin Salter, the Trust’s head of campaigns, noted: “There are multiple reasons for the decline of any species in certain river catchments. Poor recruitment, poor water quality, low flows and predation all play a part.
“However, whilst some barbel populations on some rivers have undoubtedly declined others are doing very well. The upper Lea, the Trent and the Wye are just three such rivers rivers and on the other hand the Kennet, Teme and Bristol Avon have seen significant declines. There are others in both categories.
“I’m glad you (Barbel Society) want to work with us on these issues and we would be happy to convene a meeting with appropriate people from the EA and the Rivers Trust to discuss a way forward,” added Martin, a former Labour MP.
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