Looking forward to 2018?
by David Griffiths
22 Jan 2018
It’s that time of year when I’m sorting out the details for the new season which starts in March on the fishery which I run.
And this year one of the matters which will affect us and many other fisheries across Wales is pollution. It seems in recent years that there is a never-ending barrage of Welsh waterways suffering pollution incidents.
In addition to my local angling club activities, I’m also involved with national fishing and environmental organisations. So a good deal of relevant information drops into my mailbox on a regular basis and these days it is often a dismal array of new pollution incidents, fish kills and gloomy fish stocks survey reports.
So whilst I am, of course, looking forward to getting out and about with my fishing tackle, I fear that the negative trends impacting our sport over recent years will continue unabated.
Our back-stop in terms of preventative action, also in reacting effectively to pollution reports and enforcing appropriate sanctions, lies with the Welsh Assembly and Natural Resources Wales. WAG AMs will tell anyone who’ll listen that they have great concern over the environmental and economic impact of the all to frequent incidents being reported. Yet they maintain the NRW in a woefully underfunded and under-resourced state.
A result of the catastrophic merging of the the old Welsh EA with CCW and Forestry a few years back saw a good many of the hard working and experienced EA officers leaving to early retirement. These experienced and knowledgeable people who stewarded our waterways, wetlands and coastal areas conscientiously and proactively have been partially replaced by an inexperienced box-ticking culture whose level of prosecutions is totally laughable. A couple of freedom of information statistics to prove my point:
Almost 3,000 pollution incidents in Welsh rivers in the past three years
Prosecutions in the same period: just 38.
So at a time of year when I traditionally look forward to more sporting enjoyment, this year it is tempered by a somewhat gloomy outlook. I have this NRW incident reporting hotline number in my mobile phone: 0300 065 3000. I hope to have no need of it, but if I do I don’t hold out much hope of there being any point to my call.
One positive action we, as anglers, can take is to volunteer a few spare hours here and there to our local Rivers Trust. All of Wales is covered by a network of hard-working active Trusts, which at least in some part, keep the pressure on WAG & NRW!
Visit Afonydd Cymru
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Editor, and keen angler!