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CaBA’s Chalk Stream Restoration Implementation Plan Published

The CaBA Chalk Stream Restoration Strategy annual assessment of progress was published last week (25th November 2022).

The CaBa Chalk Stream Restoration Group launched its first Chalk Stream Strategy in 2021, calling for chalk streams in England to be given enhanced environmental status. The strategy was built around the “trinity of ecological health”: water quantity, water quality and habitat quality and included 30+ action recommendations to Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England, the water companies, NGOs and stakeholders, to rescue our globally important chalk streams and restore them to a near natural state.

Now, in 2022, the group have released their implementation plan.

Orvis UK are proud to support The Missing Salmon Alliance, a group of leading salmon conservation organisations fighting to reverse the devastating collapse in wild Atlantic salmon around the UK. We are donating £5 from every sale of Mission Fly Lines, Tips, and Running Lines sold throughout 2022. We are also donating £50 from the sale of every Mission Double-Handed Fly Rod sold through our Stockbridge retail store, by phone, and online throughout 2022.

The MSA are advocating for the protection of freshwater environments and the improvement of water quality and quantity in order to reduce losses of salmon in our rivers, coastal waters, and the open ocean.

On the publication of the implementation plan, we caught up with the MSA who have called for urgent action. They explained that if delivered appropriately, the principles set out in the implementation plan will see a positive effect but they are urging those involved to keep the pressure on and not allow either the regulators or the water companies to row back on their commitments.

Chalk streams are among the most biodiverse of the UK’s rivers. Nearly all the world’s chalk streams are in England and they represent one of the UK’s most important contributions to global biodiversity. These clear-watered streams are a valuable habitat for Atlantic salmon, sea trout, grayling and lamprey, for otters, water voles and kingfishers, for rare invertebrates such as the winterbourne stonefly, and plants like stream water crowfoot.

MSA scientific research and conservation work is taking place on a range of diverse rivers across the UK, including the River Test, a river close to Orvis’ core.

The River Test is regarded as the most famous chalk stream in the United Kingdom. Physically it is the longest, being 39 miles from source to estuary and flows through some beautiful countryside from its source in the hamlet of Ashe to the sea at Southampton.

The river is said to be the home of modern fly-fishing and it is high quality game fisheries that have made the River Test justifiably famous. Its chalk water and abundance of weeds are idea for salmon, trout, and grayling.

The urgency needed has been highlighted by the River Water Temperature Projection for English chalk streams that was also published by the Environment Agency (25th November 2022).

The EA report concludes: “An important temperature threshold for salmonid egg survival during the winter spawning period of 12°C will likely be exceeded at over 85% of sites by 2080 and adult brown trout will continue to be under threat from high summer temperatures with all sites exceeding that species’ upper critical temperature range of 19.5°C by 2080.”

Stuart Singleton-White, Angling Trust's Head of Campaigns, said: “This is only the first year, so we weren’t expecting miracles.  What this report shows is both good progress in places and no progress in others. The political turmoil of the past year has prevented Defra from making the progress needed if the rhetoric and commitments they made when we launched the restoration strategy in 2021 are to be made real.  With Minister Pow now returning to her role in Defra, we want to see more progress in the year to come.”

Dylan Roberts, Head of Fisheries for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust who runs a Salmon and Trout Research Centre of the banks of the River Frome chalkstream in Dorset said “We are now seeing first-hand the damage the changing climate is doing to iconic fish like the Atlantic salmon. In 2021 we published a scientific paper investigating the causes of a crash in the numbers of juvenile salmon in the River Frome in 2016. We concluded that it was the high winter water temperatures and dry cool spring. These problems are exacerbated in light of the huge pressures we are now putting up chalkstreams. Urgent action is needed to ensure chalkstreams are recognised and protected as the rare and precious habitats they are.”

Marsh, J.E., Lauridsen, R.B., Riley, W.D., Simmons, O.M., Artero, C., Scott, L.J., Beaumont, W.R.C., Beaumont, W.A., Davy-Bowker, J., Lecointre, T., Roberts, D.E. & Gregory, S.D. (2021). Warm winters and cool springs negatively influence recruitment of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) in a southern England chalk stream. Journal of Fish Biology, 99,1125-1129. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.14760

We are proud to support The Missing Salmon Alliance’s call for urgent action. We want to see wild fish and the wider biodiversity thrive in our chalk streams again.

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