Representatives from the Berkeley Estate Fishing Syndicate, Charfield Angling Association and the Tortwoth Estate met with Fiona Bowles of Wessex Water on 23rd November 2010 to receive a Wessex Watermark grant. A cheque for £750 was presented on the bankside of the Little River Avon at Avening Green and will enable the Riverfly Partnership Angler Monitoring Initiative to be implemented in 2011.
The two local fishing clubs driving the initiative have access to circa 10 miles of the Little River Avon, running from Charfield to Berkeley. Both clubs work closely with the riparian owners at the Berkeley and Tortworth estates to ensure that the river maintains it’s healthy condition for perpetuity.
The implementation of the entomological study is a welcome addition as part of a wider set of management measures, underpinning the ongoing habitat works that already take place along the river.
The insect life in the river has a direct correlation with the river’s health, by recording the riverflies (that fishermen imitate with their artificial flies when fishing) it is possible to monitor water quality. When the scheme is fully implemented in the New Year, the two fishing clubs will carry out periodic checks on their waters by counting the numbers of different types of invertebrate fly life and comparing their findings against benchmark levels.
The Riverfly Partnership spearheads the initiative allowing interested groups to take action to help conserve the river environment; this initiative provides a simple and sustainable monitoring technique that can be used to detect any severe perturbations in river water quality and puts them in direct communication with the local Ecological Contact of the Environment Agency (EA) or Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
As regular and vigilant visitors to the river, anglers are in an ideal position to monitor the watercourses that they fish. The angler-driven monitoring runs alongside routine monitoring by the EA / SEPA, ensuring that water quality is checked often and widely; action can be taken at the earliest opportunity should any issues be highlighted by the study. A further benefit is that the monitoring initiative acts as a deterrent to incidental polluters.
The study is already well established across the UK and is underway within catchments in England, Wales and Scotland. Organisations joining the initiative appoint local coordinator/s (to act as a contact point between the EA / SEPA and the monitoring group) and have a support team of members that attend an official one-day Riverfly Partnership workshop, run by an accredited tutor.
The workshop includes presentations and practical demonstrations to enable participants to undertake their own study data. Once up and running, the sampling will be done on a monthly basis at set locations that will be agreed with the EA and will take approximately an hour per visit.
This equates to approx 6 to 12 hrs a year (plus some administration time to return the data) for those undertaking the work. Sites are allocated to a pair of anglers in order to allow them to manage the time commitments effectively between themselves.