Angling: Fish Legal making a difference to anglers

The bridge at Linton over the River Wharfe.
The bridge at Linton over the River Wharfe.
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Continuing my review of the Angling Trust’s half yearly magazine “The Angler” the Trust is set up to cater for all aspects of angling, be it coarse, game or sea, but to me the most important department, which caters for all three, is Fish Legal.

For how any water owning club or fishery owner cannot be bothered to be a member of the Trust is just beyond me, for should the worst happen, such as sudden pollution, then Fish Legal will take up your case at no extra cost as it is all paid for out of your membership fee.

To take a case like this through the courts privately would cost a great deal of money and the Trust’s boast is that they have never lost a case, they have never come out of court on the losing side!

Here are a couple of recent examples. Back in 2008 some chemicals from a cheese making company which was situated on the banks of the River Ellen in Cumbria leaked into the river, resulting in the death of thousands of prime trout and salmon over a four kilometre stretch of the river.

The company owners refused outright to pay any compensation so the Fish Legal team took them to court. They won their case leaving the firm with a £33,000 payout.

The local angling club who owned the fishing rights decided to spend their windfall on re-stocking the river and also improving the environment.

They have constructed fences with gaps in them so that the sheep and cattle can get to drink and they have also planted over a thousand alder, willow and hawthorn saplings.

The river will now be carefully monitored over the next couple of years but to date the recovery seems to be well on track.

There was an unusual incident at a lake near Bristol which has a rail line running quite close to it.

There were no problems with this until Network Rail decided to widen the track and in doing so they opened up the new line to heavy freight traffic.

The effect of this and the constant vibration has destabilised the ground causing it to fall into the lake and at the same time causing discolouration of the water and clogging up the water with silt. The rail people eventually fitted some filters to stop this erosion but they proved ineffective for the mesh was too big and would not deal with the fine silt so the pollution continued.

The effect of the silt on the lake’s ecology remains worrying for it smothers the lake bed and stops the shrimp and the invertebrates from breeding, so taking away a valuable source of food for the fish.

A recent survey shows that the fish are in a poor condition and losing weight rapidly.

There has been little reaction from Network Rail so far, so Fish Legal informed the Environment Agency and they were asked to apply enforcement action for according to the law, Network Rail are committing environmental offences and could end up in court facing a hefty compensation claim.

Harry Lodge is congratulated by Jeff Stimpson.

Angling: Deserved honour for stalwart Harry Lodge