Using funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative (CVFC) in partnership with Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust is running the first of a series of fishery management courses for fishing club and syndicate fishery managers to enable them to develop the skills needed to prepare fishery management plans, which are also inclusive of the needs of all native species above and below the waterline.
Initially aimed at fisheries in the Colne Valley Park area, the course comprises sections on; surveying, ecology, fish anatomy, diseases and parasites, habitats, water quality, aquatic plants, enhancement and restoration and the law around fisheries as well as study themes on land management of marginal surroundings.
The fisheries content is being delivered by Viv Shears, of VS Fisheries and Bernice Brewster, of Aquatic Consultancy Services, both of whom are well known in the Colne Valley, having worked with many of the clubs involved in the consultative. The other units include wetland ecology, management planning and managing change in fisheries.
The courses are being hosted at a well-known fishery in the centre of the valley. On completion of the course, students will be expected to complete a fishery management plan and will have the opportunity of bidding for support funding to help deliver the plan. The funds are provided as part of the HLF bid, originally made by the Colne Valley Regional Park, with support from CVFC and the Trust.
With climate change and the increased number of homes to be built in the valley (which has no water storage), the fisheries in the Colne Valley and the wildlife they support will be under increasing pressure and fishery managers will need all the knowledge they can gather to protect and improve the fisheries at the heart of the valley.
Tony Booker, Chairman of CVFC, said “The Colne Valley has been a gold mine of quality angling for as long as I can remember and the consultative wanted to ensure that clubs and their officers have the skills to keep the valley at the forefront of quality specimen fishing well into the future.”
Tim Hill, Conservation Manager at Trust, said, “HLF funding has enabled our pioneering initiative to take place and we welcome the opportunity to work with anglers and their clubs in improving the resilience of the habitats in the valley for fish, mammals, birds and plants, as well as local people for whom the Colne Valley is an important green space.”
Bernice Brewster, one of the course trainers said “Fisheries management is becoming increasingly challenging, due to a variety of factors including climate change, potential for the spread of known and emerging disease and fish welfare. The course provided an open forum to disseminate and discuss experience in fishery management amongst everyone participating, and considering avenues for change and improvement for all aquatic wildlife.”
Viv Shears, of VS Fisheries and an independent Fisheries Consultant, said “it is fantastic to be involved with the course and to help give those that attended a level of knowledge to allow them to develop considered management plans for their fisheries that will see them succeed and take on the challenges that may lay ahead. Fishery management is not about this year, it is about planning for future generations, so they can enjoy the fantastic fishing that the Colne Valley has to offer along with ensuring flora and fauna thrive alongside. The attendees were full of enthusiasm and the questions were non-stop throughout the two days.”