The Canal & River Trust, Environment Agency, Lee Valley Regional Park and several local angling groups, supported by other organisations with interests in the Lee Valley, have worked on a range of projects over the past decade. The consortium has helped to boost fish stocks, eradicate harmful non-native species and create better opportunities for people to be able to enjoy local angling opportunities.
Specific projects delivered by the groups through the Fisheries Action Plan (FAP), include:
- Fish tagging study to identify the location and movement of Lee fish shoals
- Control of non-native invasive fish species, including the eradication of topmouth gudgeon from fisheries in the Lee Valley catchment
- Better co-ordination of fisheries enforcement to deal with illegal fishing in the Lower Lee area
- Promotion of angling opportunities and participation through funding support for projects such as Fieildes weir access improvements and angling taster sessions
- River restoration and habitat improvement work on the Lee Navigation and the Old River Lea
The steering group, which has an interest in over 100 miles of waterways, is now planning projects to improve things further, including carrying out research work this summer to reduce the harmful impact of non-native crayfish on both fish stocks and the wider ecology of the river.
John Ellis, Canal & River Trust national fisheries and angling manager, who chairs the steering group, said: “We're delighted with the progress that has been made along the River Stort and River Lee over the last decade. The Lee FAP was originally set up by the late Terry Mansbridge, the founder of the Lee Anglers Consortium, who saw an opportunity for the fisheries angling community to work in partnership to deliver improvements.
“Ten years ago, it's fair to say conditions were on the downward spiral. Now, with a lot of hard work from a lot of different people, we are in as good a position as I can remember. In fact we are now in a position for the Trust to hold a qualifying heat of our national angling championship, together with our partners at the Angling Trust, on the Lee Navigation.
"There's plenty still yet to do, but it is nice to pause for a quick breath, reflect on the progress and says a big thank you to everyone who has helped, and continues to help us.”
Environment Agency Fisheries team leader, Richard Tyner added: “The FAP report was the first of its kind and outlined known pressures and remedies for action by local groups and partners. It really encourages a collaborative partnership approach to help tackle local fisheries issues. The steering group meet quarterly to review progress and refine ideas. Ten years sounds like a long time but shows just how committed our fisheries partners are to helping deliver sustainable improvements to a river we all love and care passionately about.”