The Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Program (known as FIP) has seen nearly £27,000 of rod license revenue invested in projects in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire over the past 12 months.
The projects were carried out in collaboration with many different partners, including local fishing clubs, river trusts and landowners.
Kitty O’Shea of the Environment Agency said:
Fishermen often ask us how we spend the money raised through the sale of fishing licenses. The Fisheries Enhancement Program is an excellent example of the wide range of activities these revenues provide to protect and improve fish stocks and fisheries.
All projects we fund must demonstrate benefits to fishers. The Fishing Improvement Program allows us to identify and invest in work that supports a local, sustainable future for angling.
The program is also a great demonstration of our partnership efforts, with many projects completed with the support of landowners, local businesses and fishing clubs – it’s real teamwork! The more people fishing, the more we can invest.
Local FIP projects in Wessex in 2021/22 included:
The Weir Warden Project
This is the 5th year of a joint project between the Frome, Piddle & West Dorset Fisheries Association and Westcountry Rivers Trust, funded by the FIP. The partnership has set up the Frome, Piddle & West Dorset Barrier Group, which focuses on tackling barriers to fish migration on the Rivers Frome, Piddle (its tributaries) and West Dorset Streams. Two Weir Wardens, administered by the Westcountry Rivers Trust, focus on managing third-party structures with owners to ensure they are not blocked and pose a threat to fish during optimum migration times.
Lavington Lakes, Great Cheverell, near Devizes, Wiltshire
Improved access facilities have been made possible through the Fisheries Improvement Program at this fishery, home to the Lavington Angling Club. Better drainage and paths for anglers during the winter months allow better access for swimming. Invasive vegetation has been removed from the lakes, restoring them to pristine condition.
Damerham Wild Trout Project on the River Allen, Hampshire
Funds from the Environment Agency’s Fisheries Improvement Program enabled the Wild Trout Trust to improve the biodiversity of a one-mile stretch of the Allen River. They installed brush mats and pinned logs in different positions to create good habitats for insects and small mammals, as well as cover for fry and retention ponds for trout.
River Yeo, near Yeovilton, Somerset
Following problems with fish numbers, the Westcountry Rivers Trust, in partnership with the Ilchester & District Angling Association (IDAA) and the Environment Agency, investigated habitats and barriers to migration in the river Yeo. A work program has been identified to improve fish populations as well as the river ecosystem as a whole. Work has been done to illuminate the spawning gravels and provide additional habitats in the river.
Lower Wood Ponds, near Peasedown St. John, near Bath
Bath Spartans installed new lily beds, 6 semi-permanent floating islands and created new marginal weed beds to improve habitat and provide refuge areas for fish. They also improved access to 8 fishing stations.
Teffont Fly Fishing Club on the River Nadder between Chicksgrove and Dinton, Wiltshire
Funded by the FIP, the Teffont Fly Fishing Club, in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust, has improved spawning habitat and stream diversity by installing habitat features such as large woody debris, stream deflectors and berms. This will create areas of faster flowing riffles for spawning and juvenile habitat and will also create refuge areas for larger fish.
Fishponds Lido, Bristol
Due to the steep banks and steps of Fishponds Lido, access was difficult for the less able-bodied. FIP funding enabled the Alcove Angling Association to construct a new sloping access point from the parking area to the existing path around the lake, stabilize the path and install a handrail to improve the access for all.