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Helping to Save Rivers from Pollution by Monitoring Fly Life

An initiative by anglers, set up to help give an indication of the state of fly life in rivers of Britain, has provided valuable information on their future sport as well as evidence of pollution.

The Anglers’ Monitoring Initiative (AMI) was launched two years ago and has now shown that fly life on southern chalk streams is down by 70% from its historic highs. Some species in certain rivers are facing extinction.

The project is fronted by fly fisherman Dr Cyril Bennett, alongside the Natural History Museum, biologists from Natural England (a body that works towards protecting the environment), the John Lewis Trust for the Advancement of the Natural Sciences and more.

Work has been planned to chart the distribution of various types of fly, as well as changes in their population. Ultimately it seeks to understand why the numbers have seen such a dramatic drop in the last three decades. There are a number of factors thought to be responsible, including climate change, loss of habitat, pollution and more.

Anglers will provide data for biologists to work from, taken from specific stretches of river every month. When samples are taken this often, it helps the Environment Agency to quickly recognise the presence of new pollutants. Since the AMI was first introduced, falling levels of insects have been picked up after polluters were quickly prosecuted and fined.

Those monitoring the rivers continues to grow, meaning that prosecutions are also likely to grow. Over time this work will benefit angling as well as the wider environment.

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