Tuesday, 9 December 2008
We now have been left with a legacy of gross mischief caused by successive generations of governments, people and corporations. Since the start of the industrial revolution our running waters have been subjected to an unceasing onslaught of diffuse pollution, dam building, over-grazing, toxic discharges, dredging and sometimes sheer bloody minded neglect. Sometimes this has been in ignorance, sometimes it's been by greedy or arrogant design. In many cases I feel our rivers have formed the front line in the battle between the development of human kind and the natural environment.....many battles have been lost. The victors know not of what of they do: as a world that looses it's connection to nature drains the very lifeblood from our souls that knits us all together.
All hippy'ish stuff I hear you cry....but is it? Squandering our natural resources for short-term economic and political gain will mean a poorer outlook for future generations. Rivers aren't just for fishermen they are for society as a whole. In my mind clean healthy rivers are good for our souls as well as ecology. For instance, urban rivers that have been restored inspire whole sections of the local community to come together to enjoy the natural environment in a way that they dare not even contemplated. The river is now the focus. Litter disappears and anti-social behaviour moves on. Projects on the Wandle in London and the Lancashire Colne are testament to that.
When we talk of conservation and restoration I really do feel that we should place a higher value on human health and well being. How many times have you walked alongside a river, paused and just taken the view in. It may be that there was a trigger...the electric blue flash of a kingfisher or perhaps a mayfly emerging on an epic quest to complete it's life cycle. You then, perhaps, re-commence your journey feeling slightly uplifted..I know I do!
A few months ago I spoke to a non-fisher who whilst hurrying to work crossed a bridge over recovering industrial river. It was dawn and he happened to glance up to see a fly fisherman in mid-current. It stopped him in his tracks. He described the angler as a beacon of hope. It was only 10 years previous to that the river in question was so polluted it was devoid of all life. He was amazed that life had once more returned to the water and was truly inspired by what he saw. He's now a member of WTT!
WTT is a grassroots organisation and we recognise that people are just as important as the cause we are fighting for. This is in terms of our volunteers, staff and the public, but also our children and grandchildren and their children. We must seize the opportunity to stand up and be counted and fight for the right to pass these priceless resources on in fine fettle. History will hold us to account if we fail.
In these days of high octane consumerism (even with a credit crunch) perhaps we should label our rivers as 'limited editions of one', perhaps even get them branded by Apple as iRivers. Who knows perhaps the iPod generation may start to value them for their true worth. It's not too late!
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
However, despite the doom and gloom, I am feeling very positive. Whilst we can't spend our way out of a recession, I feel we can deliver our way out of it. Ten years of very hard work has turned WTT into a highly efficient, action focused organisation that has always delivered on it's promises. We have a sound platform to keep moving forward. This is all backed-up by a robust budget, annual business plan, five year strategy and conservation, funding and communications strategies. The team at WTT is a formidable one. Our Conservation Team, Administrator, Executive, Trustees and Presidents are all incredible people. We are an ideas factory and have a huge array of experience and skills to steer us a on a safe voyage through difficult economic waters.
Partnership is a central to everything that WTT does. In the last ten years we have developed national partnerships with The Environment Agency (England & Wales) Natural England, Loughs Agency (Northern Ireland), National Trust, Association of Rivers Trusts, Rivers & Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS), Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, various Wildlife Trusts, The Grayling Society, RiverFly Partnership and the Atlantic Salmon Trust.
We are now firmly established as third sector delivery partner and our funders recognise that we have a unique ability to blur the boundaries between fisheries and conservation. Coupled with this as an independent charity our advice is often taken more readily than that provided by organisations that have regulatory functions as well (even though it may be the same!)
Our project work is getting very exciting with Wild Trout Wales, Cinderella Chalk Rivers Project, Anglian Sea Trout Project, Trout in the Town, etc.... These projects not only inspire us, they inspire funders but most importantly the grassroots to start conservation projects.
Our approach during these tough times will be the same as always;
- stay true to our founding principles
- keep on delivering to high standards
- develop innovative ideas and solutions
- develop new and existing partnerships
- be as efficient and prudent as possible
- share knowledge
- enjoy our work
Our corporate sponsors are backing us all the way. Special mention must be made of Orvis and Sage who have been there from the very start of the then Wild Trout Society....true friends indeed. New friends have come on board in the last 10 years too including, Hardy & Greys, Japanese Knotweed Solutions, John D Wood and the Lloyds Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, etc....their support is invaluable interms of finances but also in helping us to get a toes in the door of other board rooms.
Whether we are in boom or bust cycles ..I feel the top priority for WTT is the delivery of our conservation objectives and I can assure you that at WTT this will always be our top priority. This is why WTT was set-up and as far as I'm concerned it's Business as Usual.
Monday, 3 November 2008
As promised in my last blog I thought I would expand on the fishing passport schemes. Currently there are four initiatives being run by:
- Eden Rivers Trust - Go Wild
- West Country Rivers Trust - Angling 2000 (Devon & Cornwall)
- Tyne Angling Passport - Tyne Rivers Trust
- Wye & Usk Passport - Wye and Usk Foundation.
Between them the schemes represent some of the most enjoyable, accessible and affordable wild trout fishing in England & Wales. But the real beauty of the schemes is that they link farming, fishing and the environment. Many of the beats have been sourced as a direct result of habitat restoration works undertaken by individual rivers trusts. By marketing the fishing the farmer gets an income and will look upon the river as a asset. A river that is viewed in this this way by the people that own and manage means that it is much less likely to get damaged and polluted in the future.All income (minus a small admin fee) goes back to the farmer for the maintenance of the beat.
WTT in conjunction with the Association of Rivers Trusts has launched a new website http://www.wildtroutfishing.co.uk/ which acts as a gateway for fishermen wanting information on all four schemes.
By far the best organised and largest scheme is the Wye and Usk Passport scheme. With over 40 beats and 6okm of high quality fishing the opportunities and variation in rivers types is enough to keep even the most ardent of fly fishers occupied for some time!
For between £5-£10 you can not only enjoy some fantastic fishing but you are also putting something back into the sustainable management of the rivers, burns, etc in these beautiful catchments.
Go on.......... Go Wild!