Anglers are set to play a key part in protecting Britain's rivers with the launch of the Anglers Monitoring Initiative at the Natural History Museum today.
The new scheme provides anglers with a quick and easy method to collect data to help monitor the state of Britain's waterways.
Anglers will provide updates to the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency at much more regular intervals then previously collected.
Not only will this make it easier to detect and respond quickly to sudden, severe water quality issues such as pesticide spills, the frequent sampling also acts as a neighbourhood 'river watch' scheme deterring would-be polluters.
The three-minute health check anglers use looks at riverfly populations as they are an excellent measure of water quality. There are 279 species of riverfly including mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies, and flyfishermen imitate them with their artificial lures. They are a vital part of river ecosystems providing food for fish, birds and bats and their wellbeing is a sensitive indicator of the health of our rivers.
'Anglers have a unique knowledge of their local rivers,' said Steve Brooks, freshwater insect expert at the Museum. 'Trials of this scheme have shown their expertise makes a real, noticeable difference to how we monitor river quality. Healthy riverfly populations are a sure sign of healthy rivers, which means better water quality for everyone.'
The Anglers Monitoring Initiative offers one-day workshops to fishing clubs, helping them choose good sampling sites on their local river and explaining how to identify the eight groups of organisms that need to be tracked.
The initiative is formally launched today at the Riverfly Partnership conference How Good is Your River? Many of the country's most experienced aquatic entomologists and representatives will attend and Jeremy Paxman will chair a panel discussion.