RACG statement

jerry gleeson

Apr 24, 2018
Dear Members and friends of the RACG,

The RACG was born just over a year ago and things have developed greatly since the group’s inception. The group relies on membership, angling events and donations to support and deliver projects and events and we greatly appreciate the support of our members – the work we do could not be achieved without you.

We have been quiet on social media in recent times due to workload, but we are in the process of recruiting a communication officer, to help disseminate information. It is important you are all kept better informed of progress/developments and we are in the process of ensuring that is the case.

In the interim, I’d like to use this opportunity to give an overview of progress in our first year and I will start by including an excerpt from Matt Marlow's (RACG Chairman) address, delivered during our recent AGM:

"It’s been a successful first year for the RACG– the group has done phenomenally well and I’m incredibly proud of all your collective efforts. However, in a time of unprecedented challenges, it is important we continue to work hard for each other and for our rivers. Last year was characterised by unprecedented summer temperatures and low river levels, with the majority but not all fisheries shutting to ensure the welfare of their fish. Importantly, and at this difficult time, the RACG were among the first to offer evidence-based advice on the risks of angling under sub-optimal conditions and our message had a positive impact – being widely shared amongst the angling community and resulting in the education of individuals and where appropriate, the closure of fisheries.

We can expect increased temperatures like those experienced last summer to become more common in the future due to climate change, which will have implications for our rivers and ways of life. Coupled with rising populations and a greater need for resources, our rivers face a multitude of threats including increased water abstraction, lower river levels and increased agricultural inputs. This means we as humans need to get better at limiting the impacts of our activities on rivers and water resources, which can be achieved in a variety of ways. For example, by using less water and switching from single use plastics. In terms of water use, the RACG are actively working in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including large water treatment companies responsible for household water provision – and we seek to do more with them in future, to promote sustainable living and to improve public awareness of the challenges our rivers face. Plastic pollutants have received significant exposure the past few years, having featured in Blue Planet 2 and numerous other wildlife documentaries. We at the RACG have done our bit to reduce quantities of plastics and other forms of rubbish in our waterways, by running and supporting litter picks with positive benefits for wildlife and local communities.

From a conservation perspective and in a rapidly changing world characterised by significant human pressures, knowledge of the effects of environmental change on wildlife is of key importance. Degradation of riverine habitats, often through excess fine sediment pollution, is amongst the most common and widely studied forms of freshwater degradation, with deterioration in fish spawning habitat through fine sedimentation associated with global declines in freshwater biodiversity. Despite this, knowledge regarding the environmental tolerances of many fish species, including Barbel, grayling and Chub, remains limited. The RACG are therefore supporting a significant piece of research into the environmental tolerances of fish eggs and larvae, to provide river managers the data they need to manage rivers effectively.
The implications of BREXIT are unknown but will almost certainly represent challenges to the ecology of our rivers. What is clear is that we, as a population, will need to do more with less, meaning fishery managers and stakeholders, such as the Environment Agency, will have less funding and resources to support and conserve our rivers. Despite this, I remain resolute in my belief that we can be a force for good in these difficult times, by supporting and running initiatives that will benefit rivers and river angling nationwide.
It’s important to retain perspective and not lose sight of the fact that the group is just one year old. We’ve achieved a huge amount in that time and the period has been marked by rapid transition and growth, as evidenced by a proposed change in charitable status which we’ll discuss later on. This rapid growth and development could not have been possible without our members and without our dedicated team of committee members and specialist advisors – I thank all of you for your support and efforts the past year. The future of the group is bright, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.” Matt Marlow.

This provides some insight into the challenges we face and some of the work we are/ have been involved in to address these challenges. This isn’t a comprehensive list, so I include details of all past and ongoing projects below which relate to 1) research on river conservation, 2) river conservation activities and/or 3) fishery development/ improvement activities.


We are hosting a river fish spawning survey in collaboration with Dr Andrew Pledger (Department of Geography and Environment, Loughborough University). The survey aims to gain better understanding of where and when river fish spawn at a national scale. To find out more or to report spawning activity, please visit the survey page here.

We are supporting a Nottingham University-led PhD on the role of litter as novel river habitat for fish.
We are supporting a Loughborough University-led PhD titled “Spawning habitat characteristics of lithophilic fish – using experimental approaches to inform river restoration”.


Habitat restoration works at Kings Weir fishery were completed in 2018. The group, in collaboration with Kings Weir fishery members and the Environment Agency, applied gravel jetting to improve the quality of spawning gravels prior to Barbel spawning.

The group have proudly supported a collaborative and Salford College-led river clean-up scheme. The program aims to improve riverine habitats in and around Salford and provides students some hands-on experience of river conservation. This scheme represents a collaboration between Salford City College, The Heritage Lottery Fund, University of Salford Manchester, Keep Britain Tidy, Salford City Council, the Environment Agency, Salford Friendly Anglers and the RACG.

The RACG ran a work party on the River Goyt in collaboration with Mersey Rivers Trust. On the day, young and old were taught by industry specialists, including Mike Duddy of the Mersey Rivers Trust, about river conservation and aspects of river monitoring.

Fishery Development

The group have helped secure funding to finance replacement of an existing access bridge at Thorney Weir Fishery on the River Colne. This project is ongoing and represents a collaboration between the RACG, Thorney Weir Fishery and Affinity Water.
Kings Weir fishery (River Lea) in collaboration with the RACG have been awarded funding from a range of funders, including the British Disabled Anglers Association, Angling Trust and Environment Agency, to develop disabled access facilities on site.

In addition, we have held several social events, including a fish-in on the River Swale and talk nights in Stockport, Coventry and Hereford. These and the other events and projects listed above would not be possible without your support so please keep up your membership – it is just £9.99 per year and all money is spent on projects and activities to help improve rivers and river fisheries. Join | River Anglers Conservation Goup | Home

We are not an activist group and will always remain impartial, relying on scientific evidence to inform our approach. We are deeply passionate about river conservation and if you feel you have something to offer- either on the committee or otherwise- do please get in touch.
Further, if you have any queries, comments or suggestions, please send them to us to help us improve the group. We’d love to hear from you.

As for final words, we were all deeply saddened to hear of Matt’s recent cancer diagnosis. I hope that the group’s upward trajectory will give him a good kick forward and I hope you will all play an active part in supporting the group’s various projects and events.

Tight Lines,

Christophe Pelhate, RACG General Secretary.