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Freshwater Communities and the Riverfly Partnership.

 

The Freshwater Biological Association is to become the Riverfly Partnership host from April 2017. The Riverfly Partnership is an independent organisation operating through charitable status of the Freshwater Biological Association. It consists of a network of over 100 supporting organisations representing anglers, conservationists, entomologists, scientists, water course managers and relevant statutory bodies. With over 2400 active volunteers, 35 regional hubs and 1700 sites being monitored, the Riverfly Partnership is an excellent example of citizen science and community involvement in environmental monitoring and management.

Commenting on this significant event, Dr Bill Brierley, Chief Executive of the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) said, “I am delighted the FBA is taking over as the Riverfly Partnership host at the beginning of April 2017. More and more people are interested in the environment – especially water. We are looking to increase the number of freshwater ambassadors across the UK. We intend to build on the success of the established national network of volunteers and are confident that the frequent monitoring and early warning signs that the volunteers report will significantly enhance the health of our water networks and support improvements across catchments.”

This move is not unprecedented, the Riverfly Partnership was first hosted by the Natural History Museum (NHM) before Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC) took on that role in 2008, and does not herald any change in direction for the Riverfly Partnership (RP) or the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI). S&TC has proved to be an incredibly strong host for RP and will continue to be a key member of the Partnership beyond March 2017, by remaining on the Executive board along with FBA, Natural History Museum and the Environment Agency (EA).

It is important to stress that anglers continue to represent the core of ARMI participants, and that FBA’s established track record on fish science and training, which includes the excellent ‘Entomology for Anglers’ levels 1, 2 and 3 courses delivered by Andrew Dixon and RP’s own Stuart Crofts, identifies with that angling core. In addition, FBA equally reflects the broader, non-angling participants of ARMI and it must be acknowledged that, whether angler or not, every ARMI participant contributes equally to protecting rivers, and the fisheries they support, by regularly monitoring water quality, and, by detecting and reporting pollution incidents. The RP website is already hosted by FBA and the ARMI online database and GIS has been hosted by it since the system was developed in 2013 so that link, and potentially future development costs, will be streamlined because of this move.

Judy Proctor, Acting Deputy Director Agriculture, Fisheries and the Natural Environment added ‘The Environment Agency fully supports the work of the Riverfly Partnership. We have been involved from the start and provide a financial contribution that enables a co-ordinator to be employed to oversee the monitoring programme. The initiative engages a huge numbers of anglers and other volunteers with their environment and provides us with data that complements our own surveys. I am delighted that FBA are the new host for the partnership, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, we are looking forward to working closely with them and the other members of the Partnership’.

‘The monitoring scheme provides us (The Trust) with both pre and post project monitoring data which is essential for assessing where work is needed and whether the work we are doing is making any difference. This is particularly relevant to our sediment reduction projects. It has also given us a valuable tool to work with anglers and interest groups and given them the opportunity to gain greater insight into the health of their local river or beck whilst also informing the wider national picture.’ Ben Lamb, Trust Manager at Tees Rivers Trust.

Dr Bill Brierley, ‘The Riverfly partnership is fostering a new diverse pool of interest and enthusiasm, with young people, community groups and fishing clubs taking an interest in their local stream or river. The growth of a co-ordinated and increasingly expert freshwater community is happening! ‘

Editor’s Note

  • The FBA are a membership organisation, formed in 1929 and a charity since 1966.
  • We are dedicated to promoting and increasing the understanding and sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems and resources.
  • For more information see: www.fba.org.uk


 

 
 
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