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Showing posts from May, 2020

Life is cheap when you’re a fish

I would like you to consider two stories. First, 100,000 litres of slurry leaks into a tributary stream of the River Coly in the Axe catchment which flows through Devon in the south west of England. That is one hundred tonnes of cow shit from the dairy farms which border the rivers in the region gone into the river. Talking to Shaun Leonard, Director of river conservation charity the Wild Trout Trust , he tells me that slurry pretty much suffocates a river. “It can happen incredibly quickly,” he says.  “It moves as a slug. It will kill just about everything in the river. Not just fish, but everything which needs oxygen. So bugs, invertebrates, it will wipe all them out too. It can quite possibly do this overnight, it is a pretty instantaneous effect.” The second story concerns the shooting of a Red Kite in North Yorkshire one month before. I chose this one but it could have been any of a number of killings of birds of prey over the years, from eagles in Scotland, to that lightning rod

Divide and rule

My last blog post   reported on the publication of draft Water Resources (Control of Agricultural Pollution) (Wales) Regulations 2020 by the Welsh Government. I am trying to understand why some of Wales’ most beautiful rivers have been allowed to become so impacted by pollution in recent years, particularly as a result of the intensification of the dairy farming industry. I’ve been looking into the background to agriculture in Wales and comparing it to England, to put those draft regulations - and the problem as a whole - into some context. This post is a part of that process. I have a fly fishing friend who has held some senior public positions and advises on policy at government level, so on the few occasions when our chat turns to such matters I tend to listen, and my terribly insightful thoughts about what fly we need to tie on go on hold. I was writing a story about canoeing and struggling to get to grips with the different policies and laws in England, Scotland and Wales. We w

Wales' draft farming regulations published

As some of you who read the hard copy of Fly Fishing & Fly Tying Magazine will know, I write comment / analysis pieces for them, usually interview based, two of which come to mind are about the pros and cons of salmon hatcheries (FF&FT May 2019) and cormorant predation on our fisheries (Oct 2019). These are longer stories, I speak to a lot of people, and they take some time to put together. I thought a good use of this blog, that people who are interested in fishing and the environment might be interested in, would be to give updates on areas I’m looking into, as I go along. I am deep into slurry at the moment. I’ve covered it twice so far in the hard copy magazine. First in FF&FT Feb 2020 when we exclusively reported an Environment Agency report into a clampdown on the River Axe which revealed that 95% of farms were not complying with slurry storage regulations and 49% of farms were polluting the River Axe. Then in March 2020 we discussed the implication of the re