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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


Let's do more in 2005 for our Aquatic Environment

There is an interesting thread on, barbel fishing playground web site under the title Coarse Fishing, its reference the River Kennet and it's problems. A river I have been concerned about for a long time. Also I get very angry at the morons who have left a large amount of litter on some stretches of this delightful river. In fact I refuse to fish several stretches of the Kennet because of the litter problem. I do find litter more prevalent where day tickets can be purchased. Thankfully the Wasing Estate and another syndicate water I fish are relatively litter free.

A major problem on the River Kennet has been the lack of weed growth, also the dirty and discoloured water caused by the operations of the BWB. I feel this problem can be alleviated by the construction of filters where the water flows from the canal into the River Kennet. The cost I am led to believe is between sixty and eighty thousand pounds sterling. This is a small price to pay when you take into account the BWB are funded by the Government to the tune of several million pounds sterling. ( I.E. You and I the tax payer ) No doubt the enquiry into the Blunkett affair could have paid for the cost of the filters. Thankfully people like Kevin Rolls fishery manager of the Wasing Estate fishery and David Hallett who operates a syndicate on the Kennet are doing their best to get some action from the various authorities who are supposed to look after the environment, such as English Nature and the EA.

We must at all times be vigilant when we are at the waterside for any sign of pollution, even the tiniest stream or beck is of vital importance. Remember any pollutant accidentally or deliberately spilt on the roads or fields will eventually find its way into that six inch deep stream you can step over. These tiny veins of water usually flow into a bigger streams then eventually into a river. Where ever you fishing, please keep your eyes open for drainage pipes protruding from the bankside into streams or the main river. On my last visit to the Kennet in early December I noticed a pipe from the riverside cottage downstream of Brimpton Bridge left hand bank looking downstream was discharging, what looked like water from a dish washer, washing machine or hot tub. I quickly reported all the facts to the EA 0800 80 70 60 I also asked to be kept informed of any action taken by the EA after a site inspection. As you see from the following E-mail I recieved It does pay to notify the EA.

Martin Re. the blue pipe producing a soapy discharge that you informed us about. This turns out to be the consented discharge outfall for treated sewage effluent from the treatment plant at the property (Mill Cottage). The liquid has quite a drop to meet the watercourse which produces a froth, hence the soapy looking appearance. The cottage is currently rented out with the owners based in Hong Kong. I'm making sure they have the sewage plant regularly serviced for quality of effluent purposes but other than that there isn't a problem with this particular discharge. Hope this puts your mind at rest! Regards Jen Well done the Environment Agency

We should all use our MP's in fighting for a better future for our fisheries, for both land based and aquatic environment. Don't say your MP is useless until you have tried to get action from him or her. I probably send fifty letters a year to my MP, he gets me answers. Often from Government Ministers. ( The answers are sometimes not what I want to hear ) I win some and lose others, but I keep on fighting. Its the future of the kids not yet born we must think of. I want them to have the chance of the fun and enjoyment that I have had in the Countryside for over sixty years.

Let all of us in 2005 make an effort to devote some of our fishing time to cleaning up the rubbish strewn about the countryside and river banks, I include canals and still waters. When the season ends on March 14th. Why not spend the following weekend clearing away the rubbish from a stretch of waterway?. Better still involve a group of your non angling friends to help out, but make sure you all wear a good pair of strong gloves. During March, April and May. I usually average at least two or three days a week at the waterside planting aquatic plants, such as Crowfoot, carrying out aquatic insect counts, clearing away farmers and builders rubbish. I find hardly any anglers rubbish from club waters where there are NO day tickets. I put up nest boxes, plant trees and trap mink. During 2004 I killed 9 of these killers on the Bradford City AA fly only water on the river Aire near Skipton.

Mink are a major menace to fish and the wildlife. Only idiots, thugs and those of low intelligence would release this proven killer into the countryside. They destroy life under water, on the land, in the trees, in fact they are the perfect killing machine. Their only enemies are the otter and some of the human race who do really care about nature. Every angling club should have a team to control predators. Every angling club should apply to DEFRA for a licence to cull cormorants. Once you have the licence liaise with the landowner and the local gun club to help out with the cull. W e can do a great deal to help our sport, and the environment if we all do something constructive

Since 1948 when Mr John Eastwood KC founded the The Anglers Co-operative Association, now known as the Anglers Conservation Association,it has been the only effective organisation to successfully take on the polluter and win. The A.C.A track record is without any shadow of a doubt, A brilliant one. In my opinion the only job for the ACA was and should be to get the polluter into court and win damages. At one time I was a member of the ACA Council, sadly I felt the regime that inherited the mantle of the late Allan Edwards MBE were going in the wrong direction. They become involved in other activities including supporting the Countryside Alliance etc. I resigned from the Council, and stopped donating my speaking and writing fees to the A.C.A. These donations were sent instead to Crossroad Carers and Multiple Sclerosis Society. That stalwart of angling administration Fred French OBE followed my resignation. Over a period of time several other members of the council and committee resigned. We also lost solicitors, no one knows why. Could it have been we had a Dictator and not a Director?

I quote from the Chairman's letter to all members "From the moment of my involvement with the Association, I was struck by the lack of information given by management to both the Committee and members. It is in my view essential to establish a proper two way communication between the Association's staff and its Committee and most importantly, with you the members.

The Association is a not-for-profit organisation and is able to operate thanks to the generous funding by its members. This enables the Association to bring civil claims against those who pollute or otherwise damage members' lakes, streams, rivers and waterways. The Association also advises on a range of other legal issues. This acts as both a deterrent to polluters and a way of recovering damages for members to get their fisheries going again.

The Association's key staff are therefore its legal team solicitors and their assistants. What the Association does, no other angling organisation can do. This fact appears to have been ignored by the outgoing senior officers. During their period in charge, four solicitors were lost in one way or another. One was recently reinstated by the Committee and another has been persuaded to stay, but, some years ago, a third had to be expensively paid off to head off a potential constructive dismissal claim. It seems she had refused to sign the Trustee Company's accounts. A fourth solicitor was lost altogether. There are a large number of other board and staff members who have found their position made untenable by the out-going Director, following their criticism of the way the Association had been managed"

No doubt what the Chairman has said is probably the reason there were so many resignations. We must put all the problems of the past behind us and unite under the new Chairman, It's Director when appointed, Council and Committee members for the benefit of our fisheries. The ACA, Is not an Old Boys Club, neither is it for the personal gain of any individual or the means of climbing the social ladder for ones personal benefit. Its a fighting organisation to put the polluter in the court and to claim damages for its members. Nothing more nothing less.

Martin James Fishing