Photograph by Steve Barnett

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Gate to Heaven?

It really is a piece of Heaven through that gate.  One of the most lovely parts of my local river, packed with trout and grayling that thrive on the fly life, which thanks to the efforts of the river keepers, is so abundant hereabouts.

Now that our Environment Agency (EA) has once again neglected its duties to protect England and Wales from invasive species, it looks like the native species of creatures the trout rely on for food and we rely on for dry fly fishing in England and Wales are doomed to extinction.  I worry and wonder just how long that gate will remain a way through to Heavenly delights.  The killer shrimp is now being transported from water to water by boats, fish farmers and, yes, careless anglers too!  It seems to be only a matter of time before we lose all the larvae of the aquatic flies to this virulent predator.  This will affect others besides Dry Fly anglers.  There will be very few dippers, martins, swallows, swifts, flycatchers, wagtails....  There will be fewer bats.  Some, like the Daubenton's Bats, will actually disappear from the British Isles.  All of this is thanks to contaminated bilge being imported to our lakes, reservoirs, canals and rivers by the boating enthusiasts.  The real criminals in all this are the time servers in the EA who did nothing when it was first discovered at:

  • Grafham Water in Cambridgeshire
  • Cardiff Bay in South Wales
  • Eglwys Nunydd Reservoir in Port Talbot, South Wales
  • Barton Broad in the Norfolk Broads

  • What should the EA have done?  They should have closed these waters off the instant Killer Shrimp was discovered in them.  The reservoirs should have been drained down and the beds limed and dried off.  Cardiff Bay should have been quarantined so that bilges were decontaminated before craft were allowed to pass on anywhere else.  Instead there were no restrictions placed on access for boats at any of these locations and now - anywhere where boats go and fish farmers truck in their products - we can expect this invader to arrive and start eating our native species into extinction.

    Please do what you, personally, can do to slow the spread of the killer shrimps.  After fishing, wash your wellies, overtrousers, waders and nets in hot water and dry them out before you visit another water. You might not be able to stop fish farmers and boaters spreading this nightmare but you can ensure you never do.

    Thank you.

    Regular Rod


    1. What a brilliant, hard-hitting and timely piece! Conservation, whichever agency is responsible for it, is very poorly supported and delivered in the UK. This means, amongst many other things, that clubs and estates that manage wildlife facilities as well as they can are still at the mercy of the lack of committment, knowledge and ambition of national agencies like the EA. Your blog is widely read, and, for this piece alone, it deserves to be. Pat

    2. RR. A note on Grafham that the trout fishing has been great since the killer shrimp arrived. But like all things this is not the end. Like you I fear for what will happen when the food the shrimps feed on is gone? Will they die off and the fly life comes back. I'm as mad as you about it, it should never happened in the first place. Now we have our Ash trees in danger, the EA should be flogged.

      fishermanrichard. at 10:25

    3. Lovely picture of a beautiful bridge! I'm sad to hear about the killer shrimp and the threat it constitutes. I remember from my childhood that there was a rule for fishermen from Sweden crossing the border to Norway to fish. They had to emerge their fishing gear into some solution to prevent the spreading of some kind of threat to the lovely waters there. I don't remember what it was but at least they acted to prevent harm. So I can understand your concern.
      Kind regards,

    4. It's a shame that these things happen why the "protectors" sit on their hands. I hope that your fishermen promote a solution that works.

    5. Hi RR,

      Utterly superb and atmospheric pic. Brilliant! On the other hand, I was at Grafham this week. There are precautions but I fear they are not enough. It's great that the rental boats come with landing nets so we don't have to use our own but that surely can't be enough. Who knows whether all the sailors and bank anglers care a jot? The problem with this kind of thing is that the authorities don't have the guts to take the necessary bitter pill.

    6. What an atmospheric photo. Just perfect! On the darker topic: I was at Grafham this week. It's great that there are measures but I fear they're a token effort. The rental boats come with landing nets so we don't have to use out own but that surely can't be enough. Who knows whether the sailors or casual bank fisherman are tuned into the problem? Also it's clear that anglers are starting to realize killer shrimp imitations catch and so accepting of the fact these pests are here to stay. IMHO the problem is that the authorities haven't the guts for the kind of action you suggest. You're suggesting long term gain for short term political pain and that never flies.