THE Angling Trust has joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund and 80 individual rivers trusts to bring in new water abstraction laws.

The Angling Trust are also asking the public to contact their MP’s to write to new environment secretary Michael Gove to safeguard our rivers.

As Angler’s Mail exclusively revealed in May, many southern rivers were drying up.

That was after the lowest April rainfall on record following a very dry winter.

Even Hertfordshire’s River Colne, that has done barbel to 18 lb, was reduced to a bare bed of stones in its upper reaches.

The Trust revealed less than one in five chalk streams meets the required good ecological status at a launch day on Hertfordshire’s River Itchen. The event was attended by current water minister Therese Coffey, sports minister Tracey Crouch and former fisheries minister Richard Benyon.

Much needed reforms to abstraction

Martin Salter, Angling Trust campaigns chief said: “As far back as 2011 the government promised legislation to overhaul the outdated and damaging water abstraction regime and we are still waiting for a new Water Bill to deliver these much needed reforms.

“Since then it is clear that we are going backwards and will continue to do so unless there is a step change in policy by our politicians.”

The dried up Colne recently.

Martin added: “Nearly a quarter of all English rivers are at serious environmental risk from unsustainable water abstraction and less than 20 per cent are anywhere near good ecological status.

“We’ve just had the driest winter and spring period for over 20 years which has seen some rivers in the south east which contain specimen barbel, chub and other species coming close to drying up completely.

“It is vital for the future of angling in this country that steps are taken immediately to start improving the situation,” he added.

Greater protection is needed quickly

Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd added: “All rivers are important but England’s chalk streams are a globally recognised eco-system that deserve far greater protection than they have received in recent decades.

“The truth is that sewage, slurry, pesticides, fertilisers and soil are poisoning their crystal clear waters, which are depleted by over-abstraction of water from ground and surface water.

“They are the most poignant example of how we have mismanaged our water resources in this country,” he concluded.

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