Minutes from the previous meeting:
Minutes of the Angling Trust Thames Regional Forum Ordinary Meeting held on Tuesday June 26th 2012 at the Lambert Arms Public House, Aston Rowant commencing at 7.30 pm
1 In Attendance
Theo Blossom (Imperial College)
Martin Callow (Kennet Valley Fisheries Consultative)
John Cheyne (Angling Trust Regions Co-ordinator)
John Ellis (British Waterways and acting admin secretary)
David Harvey (Thames Angling Conservancy)
Mike Heylin (Colne Valley Consultative and Angling Trust)
Alan Hughes (Reading & DAA)
Mark Jennings (Swindon Borough Council)
Richard Knowles (Upper Thames Fisheries Consultative)
Fred Lancaster (Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative)
David Savage (Wey Valley)
Roger Smith (Thame Valley Consultative)
Colin Sweby (Wey Valley Fisheries Consultative)
Lawrence Talks (EA)
David Wales (Thame Valley & Chairman)
Steve Ward (RDAA)
Jeff Woodhouse (TVAA)
2 Apologies for Absence
Richard Crimp (Thames Angling Conservancy)
John Castle (GUSAC)
Vaughan Lewis (UTFC)
Dick Pilkinton (GUSAC)
David Reinger (Upper Thames)
Del Shackleford (Reading DAA)
3. Minutes of Previous meeting held on Tuesday February 28th 2012
These were accepted as a true and accurate record (proposed David Harvey seconded Jeff Woodhouse) and signed off accordingly.
4. Matters Arising
Mike Heylin gave an update on the equipment loan scheme that he ran on behalf of the Colne Valley Catchment covering the Thames north east area. The procurement of additional aeration equipment in anticipation of the forthcoming drought situation(!) had been completed. LT confirmed that certain fisheries equipment was available for hire in other areas, e.g. gravel cleaning equipment was available for hire in the Hampshire area.
5 Chairman’s Report
The chairman commented on the volume of useful information being received via the secretary. He urged consultatives and clubs to cascade this to their membership. This included such items as England & Wales Fisheries Group papers, Brampton Barbel open day and Water Act 2003 Consultation amongst a couple of dozen others.
6 Secretary’s Report
Circulating information and other administrative duties continued to be the acting secretarys’ main role. He repeated his disappointment that following a meeting attended by himself and Mike Heylin, the Lee Valley Anglers Consultative Association was to disband due to lack of interest within the angling community in the Lee & Stort catchment. Dennis Meadhurst would be stepping down from running the Lee Anglers Consortium after many years of excellent service to that organisation. Given the fact that the LVACA has produced two fisheries and angling administration greats in Fred French and Terry Mansbridge, the meeting felt we owed it to their memory to have one last try at stimulating some energy and enthusiasm amongst anglers in that catchment. John Cheyne agreed to lead on this and would do a mailshot to all those organisations within the Lee and Stort catchment currently in membership of Angling Trust.
The secretary had also attended two GUSAC meetings in April and June. John Castle had stepped down as secretary after a decade of excellent work, Dick Pilkinton (Tring Anglers) was elected to take over the reins. Dick and his wide Sheila also play a pivotal role in the Herts CAAG.
Finally, his day job employer would no longer be British Waterways, which would be reborn on 2nd July 2012 as Canal & River Trust.
7. Treasurers Report
The newly elected treasurer John Butler was away on holiday. He has met up with Brian Eccles and the handover and signatory changes were progressing albeit slowly due to the security check demands of the Nationwide BS. An up to date financial statement would be produced at the next meeting. It was confirmed that any outstanding expenses would be paid once the bank account signatory situation was resolved
8. Angling Catch Reports as a Monitoring Tool
The meeting welcomed Theo Blossom (Imperial College) to the meeting. He explained what he was attempting to do in terms of using angling catch data as a tool for monitoring fish populations and communities. It can play a useful role is confirming long term trends.
John Cheyne agreed to work on an on-going basis with Theo with a view to taking this forward.
9 Angling Trust Update (Mike Heylin)
The new Volunteer Bailiffing Scheme was officially launched during May with the first batch of 15 volunteers attending. A further 33 participants had expressed interest in getting involved in the next training programme.
AT were still working on the standardisation of the AT regional forum constitutions and it was agreed that the secretary would liaise with John Cheyne and circulate details of any proposed changes in due.
The predator action group situation was highlighted. Regarding cormorants the Minister was scheduled to make an announcement in November but he could be coming under pressure from RSPB not to make any concessions to the current way of doing things.
The merger of the Angling Development Board and Angling Trust had been successfully completed in April.
Angling Trust and the Rivers Trust held a joint conference in June which was well attended. A paper given by Mark Everard was highlighted and it was suggested that Mark be invited to the next ATTFR meeting to give those who had missed it a further opportunity to learn some new things. Action. Secretary to approach Mark Everard.
The need to keep a close eye on the latest consultation, Thames River Basin District Paper, Working together to deliver the Water Framework Directive was highlighted. This consultation runs until December 2012. In the Colne catchment, the consultative was leading on its own action plan document.
The Angling Trust /Angling Trust Fish Legal AGM would be held on Saturday 7th July, the AGM being held in the morning followed by a preliminary meeting to discuss the National Angling Participation Plan. Action Secretary to represent Thames Regional Forum
Finally Mike confirmed his intention to step down as Chairman of Angling Trust once a suitable calibre replacement could be recruited.
10. England & Wales Fisheries Group
The latest meeting chaired by Andy Brown was held on 30th May.
Full details of the group and minutes of all meetings can be found by on the link below.http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/news/130825.aspx
11 Hydropower Update
Debate focussed on the proposed Abingdon scheme. A lengthy exchange of emails lead by Alan Butterworth with the developers (a local community group) was on-going and Alan would attend a meeting with them planned for 20th July. The EA fisheries would be represented by John Sutton. The EA have not yet asked for a pre or post build biological monitoring regime. RK wanted to know what had happened to the EA’s oft quoted precautionary principle hypothesising that the EA were under direct instruction from DECC to go ahead and permit these schemes. MH defended the EA fisheries staff, expressing the view that privately most believe the environmental benefits are outweighed by the ecological damage to aquatic ecosystems but for them to say so publicly would be career limiting. All agreed that there was a lack of research date on the ecology of weir-pools which in particular play a vital role as spawning sites for certain fish species. It was confirmed that Darryl Clifton-Dey was leading the research at Romney.
Discussion then moved on to RFERAC which still was a legal entity although the Forum had not heard from the extant chairman for a while. It was confirmed that Howard Davidson was prepared to attend events.
12 Environment Agency Update (Lawrence Talks)
Lawrence distributed the following information
12.1. Rod licence sales
Rod licence sales were down by 17% to the 19th May. They have picked up a bit since that time but the weather and football are believed to be hitting sales. What the Agency is doing to promote sales includes:
• Rod licence reminder letters sent to all ‘lapsed’ anglers on our database
• Rod licence reminder posters sent to all teams for distribution to clubs, tackle shops and popular public waters.
• Press releases issued on new licence season, new coarse fish season etc – promoting fishing and the need to buy a rod licence.
• Twitter and www.fishactive.com
being used to promote fishing and need to buy a rod licence.
• Enforcement – targeted patrols.
• Promoting angling in partnership with the Angling Trust: Brain Smart Southern Counties Angling Development Officer, Grant Fear London ADO and Danny Williams SE ADO. Events posted on our website. Promotion of National Fishing Month.
• PDFs of rod licence reminder posters sent to SE fisheries contacts database for posting on club websites.
Rod licence sales to 19th May 2012
Region Numbers Difference
2011 2012 Sales Percentage
A 123,711 102,153 (21,558) -17.43%
M 159,636 129,941 (29,695) -18.60%
NE 110,117 90,307 (19,810) -17.99%
NW 99,819 84,800 (15,019) -15.05%
S 70,318 58,723 (11,595) -16.49%
SW 55,156 46,575 (8,581) -15.56%
T 122,478 99,380 (23,098) -18.86%
W 35,632 30,652 (4,980) -13.98%
Unknown 2,738 2,552 (186) -6.79%
Total 779,605 645,083 (134,522) -17.26%
Revenue raised from rod licence sales is directly invested into improving fisheries. The top ten outcomes delivered with rod licence income are:
Top 10 outcomes delivered with rod licence income
1. River and stillwater habitat enhancement and improving fish passage.
2. Promotion of good water quality and appropriate flows.
3. Disease prevention and control of non-native species.
4. Expert advice and scientific monitoring of the status of fish stocks.
5. Freshwater and coastal enforcement to combat illegal fishing.
6. Emergency incident response.
7. Protection of marine estuarine species.
8. Protection of endangered species.
9. Technical advice on planning and development.
10. Promotion of angling participation and the provision of all-ability access to the waterside.
12.2.3 Rod licence Bank Holiday blitz
Environment Agency fisheries bailiffs were out in force over the Bank Holiday weekend, checking that anglers were fishing legally and held a valid licence. Despite the weather, they found 7175 anglers fishing at 631 fisheries across England and Wales. Almost 500 anglers (nearly 7%) were found to be fishing without a licence.
In SE overall 177 waters were visited and 2275 licences were checked which was 31.7% of licences checked nationally during the blitz.
12.2.4 Coarse fish close season
Area 1 & 2 (Thames ) and Area 4 North operated a short term call out rota from 17:00 hours Friday to 09:00 hours Monday to provide incident response. In addition to this a total of 176 targeted patrols were undertaken at known hotspots which resulted in 22 offences being reported. The volume of calls is perceived to have been lower than last year, pending analysis of our data.
12.2.5 AT Volunteer Bailiff Pilot
AT Pilot Volunteers went live week commencing 21st May resulting in some useful intelligence regarding out of season fishing in the Colne Valley (River Colne in Bushey).
12.4. Water situation
Summary – May 2012
Despite some heavy rainfall at the beginning of the month, the total monthly rainfall for May was below the long term average. Groundwater levels are rising and responding to the very high rainfall in April and continued heavy showers at the beginning of May. River flows have also responded to the rainfall and then fallen back down during the drier weather of the last 11 days.http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/library/publications/127606.aspx
RK raised the issue of lack of consultation at times with regard to fisheries enhancement projects in west area.
DS felt it was just as important for delegates to have input into future work as it was to receive information about work already on-going or completed.
The issue of lack of consultation regarding the flood defence maintenance programme was raised and LT agreed to report back at the next meeting with an explanation of the reasoning.
13 River Crane Pollution Update
Thames Water Utilities had voluntarily agreed to contribute £400,000 to help towards the restoration of the ecology of the river. Part of the first tranche of the money would be used to fund an employee to prioritise actions.
It has been reported that Thames Water were involved in 20 category one fish mortality incidents in the past twelve months and in some 478 water pollution incidents in total.
14 Any Other Business
14.1 Olympic Park Legacy and Angling Opportunities.
It was agreed that John Cheyne would raise the subject on behalf of Angling Trust Thames Region with the appropriate contact within Canal & River Trust to be provided by JE.
14.2 Travelling Expenses
The secretary confirmed that at present elected officers and elected consultative representatives were currently entitled to claim for mileage at 40p per mile. This would need to be revisited at the next AGM when the potential funding position going forward would be much clearer.
14.3 Crayfish Trapping
On behalf of the Lee FAP steering group JE raised the on-going issue of the issue of crayfish trapping authorisations on fisheries where the EA are perfectly aware that the riparian owners are no willing to grant consent. It was agreed that the matter be raised nationally with Angling Trust
15 Date of Next Meeting
It was provisionally fixed at Tuesday 30th October, however as the Lambert Arms is not available the acting administrative secretary has made the decision to move the meeting to the following Tuesday, hence the next meeting will be held on Tuesday 6th November at Lambert Arms commencing at 7.30. A buffet will be available from 7.00pm.