River Restoration & Fisheries Management
Protecting the environment is now widely acknowledged as being essential to the future wellbeing of society. Rivers are the lifeblood of the natural environment and as a society we rely on river catchments to provide us with water, food and places to live, work and enjoy. A well-managed catchment will protect us from flooding and drought; it will store carbon in woodlands and wetlands and provide a diversity of habitats for wildlife.
The Westcountry Rivers Trust aims to restore, protect and enhance rivers and waterways that have already suffered damage or are threatened. These are not often public places with good access, but remote streams and ditches. These ditches are, however, the collection points for ground water from miles around and the source of our summer flows, the location of our salmonid spawning habitat and a network of uninterrupted migratory corridors for wildlife.
We aim to work in partnership with land managers, statutory authorities and other conservation interests to deliver this goal.
Catchment Restoration Fund - River Improvement Projects
River and catchment restoration projects worth £2.28 million are currently taking place on the Dart and Teign, the Axe and Exe, the Taw, the rivers of South Hams and the rivers of South Cornwall.
These projects will improve the health of vital river ecosystems through targeted habitat management work and by reducing the amount of pollution entering the rivers. Funding will also be used to remove obstacles such as weirs. Removing these blockages creates joined up habitats, enabling fish and other aquatic animals to move freely between different stretches of river.
Formula for Fisheries Management
The Westcountry Rivers Trust’s approach to fisheries management has evolved through interaction with various individuals and agencies, both within the UK and beyond, but perhaps the greatest single influence has been that of Ronald Campbell from the Tweed Foundation.
Our formula for fisheries management (CLICK HERE) has been developed over the last two decades and today forms an action-orientated approach that is based upon answering the essential questions that are used to direct our works on rivers.
Our systematic approach seeks to gather the essential data to make an informed decision as to what is the best action. It takes the view that the worst action we can take is no action, and that, provided the risks are low, we are better taking action based on imperfect data than waiting to get the whole in-depth picture. This is the correct interpretation of the precautionary principle.
The AARC Project
The EU Interreg-funded Atlantic Aquatic Resource Conservation (AARC) Project (now extended) combines high quality science with practical help for rivers around the Atlantic coast. This is achieved by working at the appropriate scale to the problem in hand, using a variety of different approaches; including conservation genetics, river restoration, aquaculture and educational approaches across the European partners.
Fishery Management & Angling
The Trust has always worked closely with fishery organisations by virtue of the simple fact that they care about water quality and they recognise that the whole river catchment is an interdependent ecosystem – one that cannot be managed in isolated chunks.
WRT have developed a fishery management scheme to permit land-owners and river owners to market their fishing, and thereby diversify their income whilst taking an interest in the quality of their local rivers. The scheme is called the Westcountry Angling Passport. The angling passport approach has now been replicated, with our help, across the UK and collectively the Passport Scheme is now the largest day-ticket angling scheme we are aware of.
The Westcountry Angling Passport
The Westcountry Angling Passport provides three easy ways to go fishing for salmon, sea trout, brown trout, grayling and coarse fish:
- Token Scheme which provides flexible access to many miles of wild uncharted waters
- Booking Office which you can reserve fishing on more established main river beats
- Fishing on Dartmoor on Duchy of Cornwall waters via day, week or season permit
By facilitating the sustainable development of this resource, the Trust aims to provide landowners with an economic incentive to protect and enhance the rivers, streams and lakes of the Westcountry.
The iGhillie virtual fishing guide film clips are in development with two films completed so far. The plan is to have around 10 short film clips with each film following a ghillie around a beat. The ghillie will discuss how best to approach the beat in question, the best techniques to use and the main areas to concentrate on. The aim is to give people a feel for a beat and some confidence in how to get the best of the fishing available.