An Introduction to Paul Breslin

My name is Paul Breslin and I’ve just started work in the Trust’s Fisheries & Angling Team working alongside John Ellis, Carl Nicholls and Barbara Wilder. The patch that I’ll be covering is the 'Northern Waterways' which are: North Wales & Borders; Manchester & Pennines; North West and North East.

Paul Breslin

Prior to joining the Trust, I worked for the Environment Agency (EA) within their Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology Team, covering Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. Working for the EA was rewarding and I got involved in a wide range of work, some expected within the fisheries field, and some less so...

How I got into fisheries

I have to say that my initial step into fisheries was entirely accidental! I was fortunate enough to have a little bit of good luck at the beginning, but with some hard work and taking opportunities I have carved out my own career.

When I was 17 years old I started on a Youth Training Scheme (YTS) to work in a science laboratory. Some of my fellow intake were weighing out washing powder to 6 decimal places! whilst I fell lucky and was offered a place working at APEM Ltd. At the time APEM had about 5 members of staff and I was employed to provide support both in the labs and in the field. APEM’s early contracts were wide and varied, including: the management of Salford Quays (now Media City); fish surveys of the culverts under Heathrow Airport; freshwater invertebrate and algae identification and analysis.

Fisheries related degree

After five enjoyable years, I decided to leave APEM and go to university where I graduated after studying Environmental Science BSc. I knew for career progression that a fisheries related degree would be essential. This course provided me with the necessary tools to look at issues much more holistically.

After graduation, I joined the Environment Agency’s biology laboratory in Tewkesbury, delivering the annual monitoring programme for freshwater invertebrates, plants and algae. After a year, I transferred to the Warrington office to work for the Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology team.

My EA experience

I was a fully warranted fisheries bailiff and was involved in a broad range of fisheries enforcement work, from rod licence checks, fish dealer checks, close-season patrols, pollution investigations, through to raids on premises under a magistrates warrant. I was also responsible for processing and determining applications to introduce and remove fish from anywhere within the area. I enforced ILFA legislation (now the Keeping and Introduction Fish Regulations 2015) on non-native fish species. I’ve worked with angling clubs in negotiating and obtaining agreements for introduction and keeping of coarse fish into SSSIs and SACs on lakes and canals such as the Rochdale.

I love nothing more than talking to people who have a passion for fisheries. I’m happy to give talks to angling clubs, fisheries management seminars, angling shows and I used to look after the Northwest Fisheries twitter account @NWFishEA.

Non-native plants

Whilst my boss, John Ellis, claims to grow prize winning vegetables, I’ve focussed much more on controlling invasive plant species. I’m BASIS registered; trained to provide advice on what herbicides can be used on or near to water. As area contact for herbicides, non-native plants, and non-native fish regulation, the next logical step was to be the area’s biosecurity and invasive non-native species lead.

Now for something rather unconventional

When IGas Ltd were drilling at Barton Moss, Salford, I managed a virtual team of enforcement officers and hydro-geologists, ensuring that they stayed safe and regulated the site effectively. I attended meetings with Greater Manchester Police at both Gold (Strategic) and Silver (Tactical) command levels to ensure that the company could operate lawfully and that our regulatory officers could do their job safely.

The term 'unconventional gas' is used when the gas is extracted in an unconventional way. Normally gas will come out under pressure from a certain geology and this is termed conventional, but when it needs encouragement then it is call 'unconventional gas'. Such encouragement techniques include 'fracking' or to give it its full name 'hydraulic fracturing'.

Where I first learnt to fish

There is no romantic story of me starting fishing with my Dad on the banks of the local fishing pond or canal. I actually started pleasure fishing in my 20s, enjoying the diversity of fish and the great outdoors. By then though I had worked at APEM Ltd and I had been to university. I was in the funny position of having handled pretty much all of the UK’s fish species and studied their ecology. So my starting point wasn’t to see what is under the water surface but rather to work on my water-craft and provide the opportunity for my three boys to get their line wet.


I find volunteering very rewarding and I am acutely aware what it is like to be a volunteer, to manage and to work alongside volunteers. I’ve been a school governor for the last three years where we support the school, provide strategic leadership and governance to ensure that the school is doing the very best for the children. I’m also a scout leader at my local scout group, St Georges, Chadderton. I like to share my knowledge and to give them opportunities to enjoy what scouting has to offer. I have also worked with Tony Campbell (NAAG) on providing opportunities for beavers, cubs and scouts to have a go at angling taster sessions.

In summary

I have a broad understanding of freshwater ecology, invasive species, fisheries management and I was a warranted fisheries enforcement officer. I enjoy working with people and I am also a volunteer in my own time.

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing my passion, knowledge and experiences to benefit fisheries for the Canal & River Trust and to the clubs who fish on our waterways.

Last date edited: 17 May 2016

About this blog

The fisheries & angling team

The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.

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