Sewage Threat To Mersey Cod

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    Angling Trust Highlights Sewage Threat To Mersey Cod

    Concerns over the construction of a new sewage outfall pipe on the River Mersey have been raised with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) by the Angling Trust on behalf of two of its Charter Boat members.

    Gary Flint, owner and skipper of Discovery of Menai, contacted the Angling Trust about the potential impact of the location of a new outfall pipe on the winter cod fishing that Mr Flint’s business, and those of other members of the Mersey Charter Boats Association (MCBA), relies on during the winter months.

    As a result the Angling Trust has written to the MMO asking for the licence granted to United Utilities for the construction of the new outfall pipe to be suspended until the MCBA’s concerns over the potential impact on the cod fishery and its members’ livelihoods has been properly assessed.

    The licence would allow the construction of the new sewage outfall pipe in a prime fishing location for many of the charter and private vessels that currently fish the Mersey. Mr Flint and his colleagues fear that the discharging of treated sewage effluent from the new extension will alter the habitat and negatively impact the abundance of cod in the River Mersey – a species which the river has become known for amongst sea anglers.

    Despite significant numbers of registered charter vessels and private boats operating from the Mersey, no recognition of the recreational sea angling sector was given when the impact assessment for the construction of the project was carried out. This is despite charter boats on the Mersey contributing to, and Liverpool being a case study in, the Sea Angling 2012 project which the MMO is carrying out in partnership with Defra.

    Mr Flint said, “We have tried to ask United Utilities why they have not taken into account the charter vessels that rely on the Mersey for our winter cod fishing. You must remember that anglers come from all of the UK to fish the Mersey in the winter for its exceptional cod fishing. At any time there could be over 140 anglers on commercial charters fishing the river alongside the many hundreds of recreational boat anglers. This pipe should not be allowed to go where we fish as it will destroy fishing in the river along with our businesses”.

    Stan Dickinson, Skipper of Tuskar Charters and fellow member of the MCBA and Angling Trust said, “Despite the North West record cod being caught 500 meters from where the pipe will be located and the European Federation of Sea Anglers holding a cod boat fishing festival on the Mersey for the past nine years we were still being asked by the MMO to provide evidence that the Mersey had a cod fishery!”.

    David Mitchell, the Angling Trust’s Marine Campaigns Manager said: “Anglers travel from all around the country to fish in the Mersey which has seen an incredible recovery in the last 20 years. Charter and private boat angling are significant social and economic contributors to the local area and it is only right and proper that the impact on recreational angling and the businesses that service it are properly taken into account. The Angling Trust is waiting for the MMO to respond to our concerns before deciding whether to pursue this further with the help of Fish Legal.”

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