DEFRA has invited the Salmon & Trout Association to join the RIA (Regulatory Impact Assessment) Stakeholders’ Group in its wide-ranging review of water prices and resources allocation. The S&TA, as a leading member of the Moran Committee, is the only body representing angling and fishery interests within this influential and opinion-forming Group.
“Fish are the obvious litmus test to the health of a catchment and for at least a hundred and fifty years angling has funded fishery managers to maintain and improve aquatic ecosystems. The sport has a long and honourable history of water conservation,” declares Paul Knight, S&TA Director.
What price water? The 31% price increase Ofwat proposes has already met with vocal opposition. Nobody wants to pay more – especially for a natural resource of which the UK appears to have an abundant supply. But Paul Knight is confident that the public are prepared to pay for schemes that genuinely benefit the aquatic environment and it is his intention to present compelling reasons to the Group as to why this increase is so essential. “It is our conviction that water prices have been kept artificially low for far too long and thus endangered the whole of the UK’s aquatic eco-systems.”
He adds: “The four horsemen of the aquatic apocalypse are water abstraction, endocrine disrupters caused by inefficiently treated sewerage, diffuse pollution and urban run-off. Each of these is a threat to the health of the country’s water; together they pose a mortal danger to the well-being of our river and stillwater environments.”
Paul Knight points to the alarming new research identifying sex changing freshwater fish as a result of hormone discharge that has not been effectively treated as just one result of neglect of our aquatic environment. “Investigation into how endocrine disrupters can be stripped from discharges is a matter of considerable urgency and should not be delayed through arguments as to who funds this,” he stresses.
He welcomes Defra’s forward-looking action in including angling and fishery interests in this Review. “Many anthropomorphic problems threaten our fisheries today,” he says. “Some – such as acid rain and global warming – are outside the Review’s remit. But this is a huge step forward in the adoption of an holistic approach in creating a healthy aquatic environment enjoyed by all. As the premier organisation representing angling interests in this country, we shall play a full part in this Stakeholders’ consultation.”