Environment Agency to carry out strategic review of their monitoring in the water environment
Fish Legal has welcomed the Environment Agency’s commitment to carry out a strategic review of its £44 million national water monitoring programme, to ensure it is fit for the future and to address serious shortcomings with the current approach, as had been highlighted by Fish Legal in a lengthy series of correspondence over the past two years. The review will begin early next year and the Angling Trust will also now be involved in that process to help ensure it delivers for anglers.
Fish Legal highlighted (among other issues) that:
• The European Commission criticised the Environment Agency in its 2009 assessment for failing to identify the reasons why more than 75% of water bodies in England and Wales were failing to meet European standards for ecological status, which has led to a lack of remedial action being taken;
• The current system used by the Environment Agency to monitor water quality using spot (or "snapshot") samples taken during the daytime does not capture water quality issues accurately on its own;
• Longer term trends as water quality changes are not reliably identified by the spot sample system;
• Biological monitoring of invertebrates by the Environment Agency is not detailed or rigorous enough and often fails to trigger more detailed local investigations.
The Environment Agency’s confirmation that it will review its programme of work has been welcomed by Fish Legal’s Head Solicitor William Rundle, who has been running this campaign:
“We are pleased by the Agency’s commitment to a strategic review of its monitoring programme, and we will be pressing for fundamental improvements as part of this process. It is vital not only for the interests of Fish Legal member clubs and fisheries, but also for the health of all aquatic wildlife, that the Agency’s monitoring regime is more reliable and cost effective. We believe improvements can be made that would enable better regulatory action and environmental protection.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said:
“Given the current pressures on public funding, it is more important than ever that a £44 million programme of monitoring should deliver the high quality information needed to take action confidently to halt the decline of many freshwater fisheries and to restore them to good health. The current methods gather a great deal of data, but their practical application is often questionable. We welcome the Environment Agency’s strategic response to Fish Legal’s constructive challenge.”