The Angling Trust and the CLA Game Fair are delighted to announce that Peter Rolfe is the winner of the first Fred J Taylor Award for Environmental Stewardship in the world of Angling.
Peter was selected for his work over nearly four decades studying and conserving crucian carp, a species which has suffered a dramatic decline in numbers due to destruction of its habitat and hybridisation with feral goldfish and other carp. Peter was awarded with the Fred J Taylor Award at the CLA Game Fair on Saturday 20 July in the main theatre, along with a cash prize of £1,000 to spend on furthering his work.
In the 1970s, Peter restored, created and managed several field ponds for the benefit of crucian carp, tench and a host of other wildlife. Thousands of field ponds, once a common sight in the British countryside, have disappeared through neglect or deliberate infilling.
In the 1980s, as secretary of his local angling club, Peter then moved on to creating two larger lakes of 2 and 3 acres respectively, stocked with fish which had bred in the field ponds, and restoring two half-acre lakes dating back to Saxon times. The latter he still manages as fisheries and wildlife reserves.
In 1989, he set up a business raising water plants and fish, including crucian carp and tench. He and his partners went on to create more than 20 new ponds, providing thousands of fish for stocking throughout the West Country. In the same year, he supervised restoration of two Victorian estate lakes of 2 acres each, which went on to produce fish approaching record weights.
Now in his mid- seventies, Peter has just completed a book (Crock of Gold – Seeking the Crucian Carp, Mpress Ltd.) about crucian carp to pass on his knowledge to fishery managers following in his footsteps. This is the only book devoted entirely to this threatened species.
Angling Trust received a small number of very high quality applications for this new award, all of which were entirely eligible to win. However Peter’s nomination stood out as being the precise embodiment of everything the Trust was trying to achieve by creating this award in memory of Fred J Taylor.
Chris Yates, angling writer and star of the BBC TV series A Passion for Angling wrote in his testimonial to Peter’s work:
“for several years now I have fished a pair of Saxon field ponds beautifully restored by Peter Rolfe. Though small, these waters are now a favourite with me, not only because of their wonderful crucians and tench, but also because of their wilder inhabitants. In summer, the reedbeds are alive with damselflies and dragonflies; grass snakes bask on the banks, brook lampreys live in the feeder stream and the rare water vole lives under the banks. Last season, there was a barn owl nesting in an oak on the upper pond and I have often seen a pair of hobbies hawking for dragonflies there.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said:
“Peter has single-handedly contributed to the salvation of an important fish species for angling while at the same time restoring one of the country’s most threatened habitats: small ponds, along with the plethora of wildlife that are associated with them. We are privileged that he is the first winner of this award and hope that he will inspire others. We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to apply. We will be promoting the vast amount of work carried out by the angling community to Government in discussions about how we can contribute to the Big Society agenda.”
Vincent Hedley Lewis, Chairman of The CLA Game Fair Board said:
“Peter is an outstanding role model who hopefully will have inspired many people to improve the water aspects of their land. Improving environmental habitat is an invaluable asset to be appreciated with grateful thanks by generations to come.”
Peter Rolfe said:
“Fred J Taylor’s book on tench was one of the inspirations for my field pond work in the 1970s and I feel very honoured to have won an award named after him. I am grateful to the sponsors for this opportunity to highlight the plight of the crucian carp, a fish that has been under-valued until now. Their generosity will help me greatly in my latest project, the restoration of six derelict ponds, in two acres of marvellous wetland, where I plan to continue my research into this remarkable fish and to breed many more for waters all over the country.”