The Isle of Wight Freshwater Angling Association (IWFAA) were celebrating yesterday after being granted permission by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to fish once more on a stretch of the River Yar on the Isle of Wight.  The anglers have fished the river for several decades, but their lease with the previous owners had lapsed and was not renewed by RSPB due to concerns that the presence of the fishermen might conflict with the aims of the planned extension to the RSPB’s reserve for endangered bird species. 

However, after detailed discussions between the IWFAA and the RSPB facilitated by the Anglers’ Conservation Association (ACA) and initiated by the Government spokesman on Angling and Shooting, Martin Salter MP with a meeting at the House of Commons, an agreement has now been reached to allow angling to continue.  Indeed, because of the positive working relationship developing between the parties, plans were developed for the angling club to work alongside the local RSPB staff to help clear litter, maintain fences and to prevent illegal fishing and shooting on the relevant stretch of the river.

It was agreed that match and pleasure angling by club members could resume with immediate effect on the section of river upstream of the Yar Bridge, where there is a public footpath along the riverbank, and throughout the fishing season.  It will also be allowed on a section downstream of the Yar Bridge, but only between 15th of July and the 30th of October, to protect nesting and over-wintering birds from any disturbance.  A detailed one year lease agreement is being drawn up, which will be renewable subject to various conditions.  These will include: a requirement for the club to ensure that the stretch is monitored by bailiffs, that all litter is taken away, fishing is conducted in daylight hours only, only agreed access points are used and that ground bait is used sparingly to protect water quality.

John Millington, Match Secretary of the IWFAA said: “This is great news for the club, an early Christmas present from the RSPB.  I can hardly wait to fish the river again.  Looking forward to a closer working relationship with the RSPB.  Many thanks to all concerned for making this possible.”

Martin Salter MP said: “Once again, the ACA have done a fantastic job on behalf of one of their member clubs and I’m really pleased that the Isle of Wight anglers will be able to fish the River Yar once again at Brading. I was pleased that the IWFAA worked constructively with Mark Lloyd and myself to negotiate a sensible agreement that is in the long-term interests of both anglers and bird-watchers.”

Mark Lloyd, Executive Director of the Anglers’ Conservation Association said: “The ACA has been working very closely with the RSPB on the Blueprint for Water over the past two years.  We are delighted that one of the benefits of this partnership at a national level is that we have been able to help develop greater local co-operation and understanding between anglers and birders.  We have found the RSPB staff to be very understanding of the value of angling as a pastime which promotes conservation.  Any suggestion that the organisation is anti-angling is quite wrong and there are many more benefits that could be gained from us working even more closely together.”

Tim Callaway of the RSPB said: “We are pleased to have reached agreement with IOWFAA over angling on the Yar, and thank Martin Salter MP and the ACA for facilitating this agreement. We appreciate the support of the Association in the future management of this water, including helping to prevent illegal fishing.”