A text message was sent to my inbox this week from my old friend Howard, another River Test fisherman in Hampshire. He wanted me to sign a petition against the continued dumping of untreated sewage into our rivers by water companies.
The detail that jumped out at me in his post was that a recent survey revealed that no body of water is considered to be healthy, as defined by an EU-wide directive. .
Of course, we are now outside the EU and in a position to set our own rules on these matters, but that shouldn’t make us forget how disturbing such findings are at a time when, after COP26, the protection the environment is so important to everyone’s mind. Certainly, as a fisherman, I encounter too many examples of deadly waste for fish dumped in rivers.
Sewage fungi, which take on all kinds of unnatural colors on the water’s surface, are a sight that has stuck with me – it’s as toxic to fish as it is to humans.
It’s easy to be tribal on such matters, but I don’t think there is anyone in the country who wishes we had polluted rivers where we can’t swim or fish. But how can this broader concern be translated into positive action? This is a question that has come up often since I came back to Dorset.
Britain is a small island, which inevitably causes all kinds of friction between groups with different priorities, which coexist side by side in a crowded space. Around here, one of those hot spots is between farmers and fishermen over rivers. Farmers have a livelihood, so spray their crops and apply fertilizers to increase yields, reduce pests, and stop disease, but these then flow into rivers when it rains heavily – as it is. more and more the case as our climate changes.
And then I take my quarterly River Ax Fly Anglers newsletter and find it full of reports of an overabundance of algae and phosphates in our local river water, where we all fish for sea trout and salmon. .
My instinct as a person with friends on both camps – and my observation would be that you don’t often find farmers who are fishermen or vice versa – is to stay away from what is a complicated argument.
Some of these farmers are my local suppliers and care passionately about what they do. Among the angry fishermen, others are my comrades with whom I have spent time on the shores of the Axis.
But then I can’t help but wonder how long the fish stocks will last, even in a tidal river like the Axis, regularly swept away by the sea, if all the players don’t find common ground. on this pollution issue. This is another problem to be solved in the new year.
Procrastination? It might be, but at the moment there are enough challenges to overcome to keep The Oyster & Fish House in Lyme and my pub in Corscombe afloat when the cold, dark nights set in and the people still seem slightly reluctant to eat. inside because of Covid.
One avenue I have explored is recruiting well-known names to do guest chef nights at the pub. Rick Stein and Ken Hom both agree and Mitch Tonks has already drawn a decent crowd. It raises reservations, but also spirits. We tend to do two classes each and give a small talk at some point in the evening.
The chance to reunite with old friends is always good, but it is especially welcome at this time as it makes me forget about my impending appointment for another surgery on my hernia.
By the time you read this, I’ll be under the knife. Last time around they did it through keyhole surgery which made everything really easy for me. Except that it didn’t work. Now they’ve decided to take a more old-fashioned approach to the problem. I can’t say I like it.
So staying busy makes me forget and having old friends bodes well. Not that I usually believe in it very much, but last spring when my business in London went up in smoke and I bought out the Fish House, a curious thing happened.
The same time my lawyer texted me to tell me it was all over, a Toby jug I had displayed on a shelf at home fell and shattered into pieces. I decided to take it as a good sign. And it was.
As said to Peter Stanford
Read last week’s column: A customer told me my pub menu is boring and the locals don’t like me. Here is how I answered …
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This notice was published: 2021-12-02 05:00:00