Angling: Environment Agency keeps licence-dodgers in check

The Armley fire on Easter Monday had a big impact on the fish population in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
The Armley fire on Easter Monday had a big impact on the fish population in the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.
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THE latest report from the Environment Agency shows that their officers have been hard at work since the turn of the year.

The latest figures show that between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, their enforcement officers carried out 10,743 rod licence checks in Yorkshire and the North East – 7004 in in Yorkshire alone.

There were 549 successful prosecutions for licence offences and the average costs awarded were £108.

The sad thing is that the Environment Agency does not profit from the fines as the cash goes straight into the government coffers.

Close season checks have been carried out on the river system and the anglers have been reported for offences, in fact over the Easter period 351 anglers were checked and 53 were found to be without the necessary documentation.

Invasive species, meanwhile, continue to be a problem on some of our waterways.

One of the worst of these is Floating Pennywort, a species which forms a dense carpet that restricts the growth of other native plants.

In conjunction with the Canal and River Trust, the Calder and Colne Trust and the River Don catchment, the Environment Agency have cleared 90 per cent of the floating penny wort in Yorkshire. The aim, ultimately, is to completely eradicate yet another invasive species, Himalayan balsalm, and later this year a fungus will be released as a biological control, subject to ministerial approval.

If anyone knows of an extensive growth of the balsalm please contact Andrew Virtue at the Environmental Agency and he will deal with it.

The report also mentions a major pollution and fish kill which took place in the centre of Leeds in April.

Fire water ran off from a chemical packaging and recycling firm in Armley containing chemicals which were harmful to fish.

The Environmental Agency worked closely with the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Canal and River Trust and other agencies to minimise the impact of the fire.

The impact to fish in the canal was kept to a minimum by careful management of the lock gate systems.

It is estimated that over a thousand fish were killed.

In general the water quality in the Leeds and Liverpool canal has improved so much over the last 10 years that it now supports a healthy fish population and it is anticipated that the fish will naturally recolonise the affected stretch of the canal.

The Environment Agency also warns that at this time of the year as the water in ponds and lakes warms up, the oxygen levels can fall and if it gets too low then fish kills will occur, particularly if the fishery is over-stocked.

The best solution here is to carry out early morning water checks to see if any fish are in distress.

When dissolved oxygen levels are at their lowest the solution here is to either hire an aeration paddle wheel or alternatively a water pump for a jet of water sprayed across the surface can help to raise the oxygen levels.

Top rod Darren Starkey with a 3-02 perch from the bungalows section on the River Ouse. PIC: Steve Fearnley

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