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Anglers lead the fight against pollution

The Angling Trust’s ‘Anglers Against Pollution’ campaign has reached a significant milestone with the 2,000th water quality sample taken from UK rivers

The 2,000th sample was taken by voluntary bailiff Jonathan Swan on the River Chelmer in Essex and showed that phosphate levels exceeded the Water Framework Directive while nitrates were at the trigger level.

Grass Roots heroes

Johnathan is just one of many grass roots heroes who have joined the national Water Quality Monitoring Network and give up their time to ensure a better understanding of changes to water quality and potential pollution issues on their club waters. Working alongside the Angling Trust they then use the information to demand changes by Government, regulators, water companies, agriculture and industry to improve the quality of water in the Britain’s waterways.

The Water Quality Monitoring Network launched as a pilot project on the River Severn in May 2022 and was rolled out nationally two months later. It currently involves more than 500 volunteers from 200 angling clubs in taking samples from 150 rivers.

Anglers demand change

Taking a sample of river water to check its quality

Taking a sample of river water to check its quality

“The initiative is giving power to us as anglers to demand change. There is a real lack of independent data on the water quality in our rivers and anglers are now filling that void. All the test results are uploaded to a central database to be collated and analysed. Our first year’s report on the Severn Pilot made the main ITV evening news as well national and local newspapers and a number of clubs have used their results to lobby at grass roots level” said Angling Trust Head of Communications and Membership John Cheyne.

In Kent, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Angling Society and Bromley and District Angling Society used their findings to pinpoint four potential sources of pollution – run off from a large cattle farm, a Southern Water sewage pumping station, the South Tunbridge Wells Water Treatment Works outfall and a brick stack inspection port from a local estate – which they reported to the Environment Agency hotline.

On the River Severn, Shrewsbury Town Fisheries presented their results to the Town Council and featured at the ‘How Clean Is Our River?’ meeting in February. They are continuing to campaign locally alongside other community groups and have appeared in the angling, regional and national media. This local work will only increase as more and more clubs join the network.

Appeal for angling clubs to become involved

Testing a water sample to check for pollution

Testing a water sample for signs of pollution

Kris Kent, who leads the initiative for the Angling Trust, is always on the look out for new clubs to start monitoring on their waters and has appealed for angling clubs with river fishing to get involved.

John Cheyne added: “The public concern over pollution is at an all time high, so it’s vital we have data to back up the claims and keep demanding that the Government acts before it’s too late. The Angling Trust’s ‘Anglers Against Pollution Campaign’ is right at the forefront of that work.

“Working with the tackle trade on this is an essential part of our strategy. We have brilliant support from Orvis who provided seed funding to get the monitoring initiative underway in the first place and continue to be our major sponsor. Flambeau Outdoors supply the ‘Big Yellow Boxes’ that volunteer’s monitoring equipment is stored in and tackle shops all over the country are selling campaign stickers and badges to help fund the work. We welcome support from any tackle shop or tackle trade company who wants to get involved,” he said.

Clubs wishing to become involved should contact Kris Kent on whilst tackle trade wishing to support this work should contact John Cheyne on

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Written by Peter Cliff
With career in Public Relations and journalism, Peter worked for local, regional and national newspapers before moving into Public Relations. A regular contributor to several major angling publications over the years, he launched in 1999.


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