Monday, 3 August 2009

Pulling Together

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful evenings dry fly fishing on the middle Eden. A parachute Greenwell did the trick with seven wild trout to a 1lb and a fantastic grayling of about 1.75lb. As I was enjoying myself I started to take in my surroundings and what really struck me was the profusion of Himalayan Balsam.

This alien invader is really the scourge of the Eden valley.

It out-competes our native plants and in the winter when it dies back can leave river banks vulnerable to erosion. All of that eroded material can choke spawning gravels which in turn will reduce the recruitment of wild salmon, trout and grayling....all in all very bad news.

The distribution of this plant is widespread throughout the catchment and it may appear to some to be a problem that can't be tackled. But here at ERT we feel differently and we are doing something about it. We organise balsam bashing days with volunteers to tackle reaches of the upper Eden where the problem isn't too bad. On it's own this approach will not solve the problem at a catchment level, but it is a very useful at raising awareness of the issue . Moves are a foot to start to co-ordinate efforts not only within the Eden catchment but across Cumbria as a whole. The Cumbria Invasive Species Forum is co-ordinating a bid for funding to take a county based approach to invasive species control. This would be backed up with local coordinators on a catchment by catchment basis. But this still would not be enough ....and this is where angling clubs can really make a difference.

Fishing clubs on the Eden are in a perfect position to make a major contribution in helping to eradicate and control balsam. Each year many clubs organise working parties to 'tidy-up' the river, repair stiles, etc.... Well, how about organising balsam bashing parties as well. This is one of the more significant threats facing the quality of fishing on the river and clubs simply cannot afford to ignore the problem.

It may seem like the problem is too big, but it's not too late and with hard work and co-ordination we can win this battle to eradicate this alien invader!

Invasive issues are rising up the conservation agenda and are also being incorporated in to legislation through mechanisms such as the Water Framework Directive. Here at ERT we would like to have an officer on the ground to co-ordinate our efforts and work with interest groups such as fishing clubs and community groups. We are resource limited but we are hoping to start a demonstration project on the Petteril later this year. Hopefully what we learn will then be used as a blue print for the rest of the catchment.

Please contact us if you would like more information about invasive species and their control within the Eden catchment. Why not attend one of our Balsam Bashing Volunteer Days as well!