Under The Surface

Delivering relevance and ambition

Delivering relevance and ambition

Nick Measham, CEO
03 March 2021

“Building back greener” is the Government’s promise for a better environment in the world after Covid. If this is to be more than a politician’s promise, our work could not be more relevant for wild fish and their habitats. The simple fact is that, without the ambitious policy changes we are campaigning for, our water environments will continue to suffer.

Whether it is abstraction, agricultural pollution, sewage or salmon farming, there is a failure by Governments to set ambitious goals but even worse, there is no commitment or funding to enforce existing regulations and hold polluters to account.

Since the early 1990s, prosecutions for water-related offences have collapsed (in line with Environment Agency funding) and not because pollution has declined. The latest classification data from the EA (2019) shows water quality continuing to decline.

Nick Measham, CEO

So, what are we doing about?

The answer is as much as we can to encourage Governments to set ambitious goals. Nothing less will build our rivers and fish back greener.

Examples of our work to support this:

  • We are leading the call for zero abstraction on chalk streams. The reason is zero or something as close as possible is necessary to give this scarce, vulnerable habitat a sustainable future.
  • In agriculture, we are calling for the 2018 farming rules for water to be enforced. Currently, the EA lacks the resources or, so it seems, the desire to act. There have been next to no prosecutions despite copious evidence of farming pollution. We are re-running the Riverfly Census this year to see if any reduction in pollution has occurred.
  • We are demanding open-net salmon farming be regulated to protect wild salmonids and the environment from sea lice, escapes and pollution of the aquatic food chain. As currently practiced, open-net farming fails to protect wild fish and yet the Scottish Government refuses to act.

Why is wild fish conservation relevant to me?

Our goal is to reach the widest possible audience we can and raise awareness of the threats facing wild fish and their habitats. We want to help people understand why they should care.

We talk about relevance because what we do is relevant to anyone who appreciates and enjoys the UKs wild watery places and the wildlife that inhabits them. It is not as though a healthy water world is not important to human life.

To this end, we are pleased to be the lead sponsor of the wildlife photographer and filmmaker Jack Perks and his project to bring the hidden lives of Britain’s fish to the silver screen (well to the TV screen at least). And in its slightly more modest way, this re-launched blog is designed to do the same. I hope you enjoy it.

You can help. The more we share our work and communicate its importance the bigger the audience we inform and educate. The bigger the audience, the more support, the more support, the more we can achieve.