Having your say about the way we manage our Freshwater Environment

As water use grows and our aquatic habitats need greater care than ever, anglers and the general public are being invited to give their views and ideas in a nationwide Environment Agency consultation. Here’s what you need to know.

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As anglers, we know only too well how important rivers and lakes are. But the freshwater environment and the life it supports is under increasing pressure. Homes, businesses and food production all depend on fresh, clean water, causing demand to rise. Meanwhile modern farming methods, our road network, sewage systems and even individual households all produce various types of pollution that enter our rivers and lakes.

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Fish depend on healthy lakes and rivers; but most of the public barely give them a second thought. This is why anglers’ views are vital!

Sometimes the damage is visible, such as when fish kills occur. However, many other effects are less visible but also important, whether that means low river flows, habitat loss or pollutants that threaten the aquatic wildlife we all love. With a growing population and climate change, these challenges are only likely to increase, with greater seasonal extremes and continued urban develpment around our natural spaces.

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Our freshwater habitats support a huge range of life, from tiny invertebrates to fish and waterside wildlife.

Unfortunately many of our rivers are not supporting the wide range of aquatic species that they could, however there is a tremendous amount of work being carried out to remedy this by, angling clubs, wildlife groups, Rivers Trusts and Environment Agency specialists. We all have a part to play and our own knowledge and experience to share. This is where you come in!

Everyone should have a say in house we balance the needs of the environment and our country’s population.

Have your say on our waters

So how do we balance the need to protect our environment against the needs of business, agriculture and ordinary people? And from an angler’s point of view,¬† how can we as a nation ensure that the needs of the human population doesn’t have an overly negative impact on fish stocks, invertebrates and the beautiful places that we love to fish?

The tool that the government uses to try to find this balance are River Basin Management Plans (RBMP’s). RBMP’s set out how organisations, stakeholders and communities will work together to improve the water environment, they cover entire river systems, including river, lake, groundwater, estuarine and coastal water bodies. It is these RBMP’s that help decide how we achieve a balance between industry and environment, between the human population and our wildlife, between economic needs and the needs of the natural world. We all have a right to have our say about how this planning is done and where the priorities lie.

Planning and managing our Freshwater environment is a complex task.

To allow everyone to have a say in these RBMP’s the Environment Agency runs a consultation called “Challenges and Choices” which everyone from individuals to large organisations can input into. It’s provide anglers, angling clubs and environmental organisations with a chance to raise issues and help set priorities. So if you care passionately about our freshwater environment, then this is your chance to have your voice heard.

Challenges and choices

The Angling Trust will be responding to the consultation on behalf of our members, but we would also encourage any individual or organisation who has strong views to submit their own response too. The more anglers that voice their opinion the better! Perhaps you have direct experience of some of the challenges we face, or have strong views on the way agriculture and industry affect our rivers.

Obviously the management of our environment is a complex topic and therefore the Environment Agency have split the consultation into bite sized topics. They have also included short videos to illustrate some of the “Challenges and Choices” we need to make as a nation. The good thing is, you don’t have to complete all the sections to respond to the consultation. Just respond to whichever sections you want. The final date for responses is September 24th 2020. Below are the links you will need.

Challenges and Choices Overview

Challenges and Choices Main Consultation

Guide to Responding to the Consultation

Remember, your opinion counts but only if you use it! Those from all sectors and parts of the country are welcome. Do give it a few minutes of your time and share with your fellow anglers.

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