Restoring Rivers, Improving Stillwaters: The Fishery Improvement Programme

How your club can benefit from the Fisheries Improvement Programme (FIP) 

All over the country, organisations like local Rivers Trusts and  The Wild Trout Trust are working with the Environment Agency to restore our rivers and stillwaters to a more natural state and improve the fish stocks and fishing. Angling Clubs can get involved too, as many of the projects are completed with the help and assistance of local anglers. So why not think about what sort of project would benefit your club’s water? If you need some inspiration and ideas why not take a look at the blog and video produced by AT’s John Cheyne along with Dr Mark Everard or check out the Area Summaries from the latest  Environment Agency’s Annual Fisheries Report. 

 

Another great source of information is Dr Mark Everard’s book “River Habitats for Coarse Fish”

Once you have an idea of the sort of habitat improvement project that you think would benefit your stretch of river, or stillwater, the next step is finding the funding and the expertise to bring it to fruition. That’s where the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Programme can help. FIP funding is income from the sale of coarse, trout and eel rod licences, reinvested into works to benefit anglers and fisheries.

What sort of work does the FIP help fund?

It’s all about habitat improvement, as opposed to better access and features like paths, platforms and facilities (these are the remit of the AIF or Angling Improvement Fund). The FIP pot covers a wide range of fisheries and projects (last year about 180 projects were funded by £1.5M of fishing licence income), covering both rivers and stillwaters.

An amphibious digger creating a fish refuge in Essex.

The variety of improvements is very diverse, but some typical areas supported include:

  • Restoring natural features such as meanders and gravel riffles.
  • Providing reeds, cover and refuges to help fish spawn, feed and evade predation.
  • Desilting ponds.
  • Installing woody material to provide flow variation.
  • Design and installation of fish passes and small weir removals.

 

What are the essentials for a successful project?

Firstly, as with AIF funding, ANY fishing club or fishery owner can apply for FIP funds. However, rule number one is that the scheme cannot cover the complete cost of any project. To make the maximum use of monies available, so-called match funding is the established practice. In other words,  clubs and fisheries  should seek to provide money so that funds go further. However sometimes that matched funding can be made up of volunteer time, rather than hard cash, so even if your club does not have lots of spare funds you can still apply.

Before and after shots of a fish easement project at Shermans Bridge in Sussex

How can my club or fishery apply?

Developing and implementing a successful project varies greatly, but your first port of call should be a chat with your local Environment Agency Fisheries Officer. If you’re not sure who that is, just call 03708 506506 and ask to speak to a Fisheries Officer in your area. Once you are in contact, run your clubs ideas past them and ask for some help, you could also chat to your local Rivers Trust or The Wild Trout Trust as they work closely with the Environment Agency and may be willing to work on a joint project with you.

At the end of the day, The Fisheries Improvement Programme is all about the Environment Agency using Fishing Licence money to improve fisheries, fish stocks and fishing, which is great to see. If you want to know more, just click the link below to download a document which tells you all about the FIP and some fantastic examples of successful projects from 2016/17.

Fishery Improvement Programme INFO

One thought on “Restoring Rivers, Improving Stillwaters: The Fishery Improvement Programme

  1. The Wild Trout Trust offer free advisory visits, reports and project proposals. This is a great tool for clubs that aren’t entirely sure what habitats improvements they could be making with FIP money. WTT can also help with coarse fisheries; many of the techniques and principles of habitat enhancement for game fish apply equally well to coarse fish (as shown in Mark Everard’s excellent book).

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