Anglers are being invited to act as an “early warning system” to help protect the River Tyne and it’s tributaries from pollution. The Tyne Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency are looking for volunteers to collect information about the invertebrate life in their local streams and rivers.

Workshops will be held on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th April at Prudhoe Riverside Country Park. Training will be provided on sampling techniques and identifying freshwater animals by local experts.

The volunteers will then take on the responsibility of regularly monitoring an allocated site, maybe somewhere close to home or that they often visit for leisure. They will count the numbers of different mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies and freshwater shrimps in the sample. These animals are all very sensitive to pollution, as well as being important as food for fish. If there are any sudden changes in the invertebrate populations then the Environment Agency will launch an investigation. When low numbers were returned for the Howden Burn, Russell Barber from the EA arranged to visit the site with TRT and the responsible River Fly volunteers. The resolution was a master class in kick sampling to suit the conditions in that burn and invertebrates were found after all. As a result refresher events have been arranged to share best practice and ensure all volunteers are happy with their work.

Carole Sanderson attended the workshops last year. “I enjoyed last years’ riverfly workshop, it’s enhanced my knowledge of aquatic life. In my role as an Angling Development Board coach educator, I deliver a basic knowledge on the subject to my students. I welcomed the opportunity of furthering this knowledge to pass on what I’ve learnt to my participants.
The course tutors’ were knowledgeable and helpful. We are looking forward to the refresher in April!”
The monitoring scheme has been developed by the Riverfly Partnership and has already helped track down the causes of pollution in other parts of the country.

The Tyne Rivers Trust organised two very successful training workshops last year and is helping with the supply of sampling equipment. There is already a network of sites being monitored by volunteers and it is hoped that this can be extended to protect even more of the River Tyne.
Ceri Gibson, of the Tyne Rivers Trust, said of the project, “This is a great opportunity for people to really get involved and find out more about their local river whilst also contributing to collecting extremely valuable baseline information. We are extremely grateful to the Riverfly Partnership, the Environment Agency, our funders, Awards for All and of course the enthusiastic volunteers who take a pro-active interest in what is living in their waterways.”

Russell Barber, of the Environment Agency, is a tutor at the workshops and is fully supporting the initiative. He said “The workshops were a great success last year, and the Riverfly programme is a fantastic way for people to take an active role in protecting their local environment. I’m looking forward to taking part in the workshops again this year. This scheme compliments all of the work that the Environment Agency is doing already to protect our rivers from pollution.”

If you would like to take part in the scheme, or would like further information, then contact Ceri Gibson, Tyne Rivers Trust, Northumbria House, French Gardens Industrial Estate, Hexham, NE46 4DL Tel 01434 611817 email: