Why Brexit could have implications for anglers

Roger Poole with a nice chub
Roger Poole with a nice chub

The country’s decision to leave the EU has led to numerous arguments but it has happened and we must look to a future where even fishing needs a vision to sustain a pastime that so many of us enjoy - writes Roger Poole of Petworth and Bognor Angling Club.

It’s not so much the actual fishing – it’s more about the ability to ensure our environment is properly managed. Without plenty of clean running water in our rivers and ponds and lakes, free of nitrates and pollution, our fish simply won’t survive.

There are many EU directives we must look to continue with and the one that affects angling is mainly the Water Framework Directive which our government signed up to. It is almost certain to remain as it’s designed to ensure our rivers in particular meet water-quality levels throughout the country.

If we take a closer look at our two main rivers, the Arun and Rother, they fell well short of minimum quality levels and the fish population matched the quality. However over the past few years, a determined effort to improve matters has led to a gradual and vital path to recovery.

This cannot be done by any one organisation, let alone the taxpayer However a partnership between the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust, the Angling Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, angling clubs, the Environment Agency and many others, it has been possible to improve the movement of fish throughout the length of the Rother by building fish passages.

The heavy silt that enters the river has been reduced by silt traps installed in area’s of intense crop farming.

This can be done only with the help and co-operation of landowners and farmers who are fully engaged in river restoration.

It has, and will continue to be very much a joint effort. Work was undertaken by Arun & Rother connections, who received large Heritage Lottery funds that enabled a great deal of work to be done. Local communities helped, like those removing old cycles and supermarket trolleys from the Arun at Horsham.

Our ponds and lakes which over the years have declined by more than 45 per cent need constant attention. A farmer ploughing and fertilising too close to the water’s edge can unwittingly pollute and kill the essential plants and weeds, home for the food chain for fish.

The sight of swollen dead fish is a reminder that pollution is never far away. Close to where I live there is a lovely small pond once home to small rudd, roach, newts and frogs. It’s hidden in a copse close to a busy road and one wet winter, the roadside drains couldn’t cope and the oily polluted water was allowed to drain into this pond with the sad loss of just about every creature that had happily lived there. Flooding is yet another issue where careful planning is necessary.

We hope those in power will continue to consider our fragile environment, even down to the lone fisherman enjoying his or her well-earned pastime, but we need to keep up the pressure and ensure we have an even better environmental policy than the one we leave behind.

Moving into the here and now of angling, it continues to be a good season. We need rain fairly soon but good catches of most coarse fish continue to fill the club’s fish record books which we always ask our members to complete before they leave.

Many sadly don’t and worry that news of a special catch will bring others to try their luck from the same area, but unless we know what’s being caught we are at a loss to know how good or bad the fishing is.

They’re a funny old lot, anglers, secretive and shy of publicity until they meet another angler and then the arms stretch, weights tend to rise upwards and tapping of noses indicates bait knowledge and wisdom unknown to others.

See www.sussexangling.co.uk for more.

Roger Poole

Chairman, Petworth & Bognor Angling Club

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