The NFA would like to issue a statement regarding swan deaths and a proposed no fishing zone on the River Severn at Bewdley near Droitwich.

Following suggestions from local swan rescuers that a number of swan deaths in the area have been caused by lead left behind by anglers, the NFA has been in contact with the local Bewdley Town Council and will be discussing the matter on Monday 16th to ascertain the extent of the problem. The main issue is whether or not there is any scientific evidence which actually proves lead may be the cause of the deaths and until this is ascertained any fishing ban would be unjustified.

If there is evidence of lead poisoning then the source of the lead must be ascertained and the NFA is prepared to assist the local council in this process. However, it must be pointed out that, 20 years ago following extensive deliberations involving the NFA and various organisations, including RSPB. Despite the claim that the whole problem “belonged” to angling it was not overwhelmingly proven. Although, it was agreed to prohibit the sale of lead shot of those sizes most used by anglers that were identified as being most likely to be ingested by swans.

The sizes ranged from the ever popular 0.06 grams to 28.38 grams.  The term lead shot included any shot whose manufacture included lead. This agreement was later embodied into local bye-laws.

A whole range of substitute, non-toxic shot was then produced and these along with lead shot which was outside the prohibited ranges were sold in non-spill containers. This measure prevented an angler from accidentally spilling enough shot at the water’s edge to cause any problems for the swans.

Anglers are commonly referred to as ‘Guardians of the Waterways’ as they are very knowledgeable on environmental problems and are often the first water users to find and report any potential problems to the relevant authorities, helping protect the eco-systems in which angling takes place.