At a time when words like Big Society, community empowerment and citizen science are on everyone’s lips, last week’s third Riverfly Conference ended up debating a vital question…

how can the members of the Riverfly Partnership not only analyse and record the state of our rivers, but actively work to conserve what’s in danger and restore what we’ve lost?

Once the Chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith of Finsbury, had opened proceedings, the conference headlined the Wandle Piscators’ very own Will Tall on his favourite subject, monitoring the ecological recovery of the best and clearest stream near London, closely flowed by…

  • Dai Roberts and Frances Atwood from the River Rhymney on making polluters pay
  • Laverne Bell from the Ballinderry River on establishing Northern Ireland’s pilot Riverfly Anglers’ Monitoring Initiative
  • Stuart Crofts from the River Don on inspiring volunteers
  • Richard Aylard from Thames Water on the water company’s perspective on Riverfly monitoring (“it keeps us on our toes!”)
  • Professor Steve Ormerod from Cardiff University on future challenges for Riverfly monitoring
  • Geoff Bateman, the EA’s new Head of River Basin Management, on the future of our rivers under the Water Framework Directive
  • Dr Cyril Bennett on restoring mayfly and blue-winged olive populations

 … and numerous others including Professor Alan Hildrew, Craig McAdam, Dr July England and finally Dr Mark Diamond on the unwelcome arrival of Dikerogammarus villosus in the UK.

The conference concluded with a very lively debate chaired by Tom Fort, a discussion which left most of us in no doubt that Cyril Bennett’s call to action in this month’s Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine is absolutely right…

… Doing nothing is no longer an option, and it’s up to us as anglers to take the lead in getting our riverfly populations back.

Simple as that, really.

(Photo credits: thanks to Jim Dillon)

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