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In the last nine years, the Barbel Society has funded, or part-funded, the following projects, supporting both habitat work of real conservation value, and positive research into barbel and barbel fishery management;

Stocking of the River Dane; following pollution of the river, the BS made a grant to a local club to help establish barbel populations.

Stocking of the River Aire; the BS made a grant to a small club to help improve barbel populations on the river.

Stour Barbel Project; in partnership with local clubs and the EA, the Society raised over five thousand pounds towards habitat improvement works on the river, involving the reintroduction of gravels, and construction of fry bays.

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Work on a weir at Throop was recently completed, with the help of 2K from the Barbel Society, and further works are planned.

The EA and the BS placed 9000 small barbel into the middle reaches of the river in the last three years as part of the project.

A further 1000 barbel were stocked into the Stour in October 2012, and BS funds contributed to a fry bay construction near Wimborne, completed in 2015.

Stocking of the Dorset Stour at Throop; the BS helped to pay for 1200 barbel to be stocked into the Stour at Throop, in September 2014. The fish will be marked and their progress monitored, as part of the Bournemouth University PhD project. These fish have now been stocked.

Arborfield Weir Project; the Society provided several thousand pounds worth of gravel and materials to support this EA-led Award winning project on the River Loddon.

The Society is also funding research into barbel movements on the Loddon, using tagged stock fish placed into a sidestream. This work is currently under progress, with barbel movements being monitored.

Bransford Project; The Society worked in partnership with the EA and Severn Rivers Trust to skylight a stretch of the Teme near Worcester, bringing life-giving light to the river, as well as providing improved bank stability. Unstable willows were pollarded and coppiced, and woody debris placed in the river, along with planting of fresh willow and alder pollards to retain and stabilise banks.

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Funds from the BS were also utilised by the Severn Rivers Trust for other habitat works on the Teme.

A second phase of this work was planned for 2014/15.

St Patricks Stream Project; the Society paid for a fish survey and report on this Thames tributary, and will support the resulting habitat works with further funding.

Bournemouth University Research Projects; the Society has funded a major piece of research work, which involved a review of all current barbel research work, and also some tank experiments into competition between barbel and other species, both of which have now been published. The University is also carrying out a scale reading study, using scales provided by the EA and BS members. This study will be the largest of its kind, and will provide information on growth rates and population structure for many UK rivers. A database of all available barbel-related research is to be compiled over time by the University.

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More work on barbel diet has been carried out in partnership with Queen Mary College London, which involved further analysis of scales and this used complex techniques to establish the proportion of natural food, angler’s baits and crayfish in barbel diet.

The analysis of the scales for the barbel diet research was carried out in 2013, This report has now been published.

Growth rate analysis work on the Teme, Kennet and Hampshire Avon has already been completed and published, and scales from barbel on the Trent and Severn are being collected next season for further study.

The Society has committed funding over the next three years, 4K per year, in support of a PhD project at Bournemouth University which builds on the work of Karen Twine on the Great Ouse, but will involve work on more rivers, and will look at current populations and the factors affecting barbel recruitment, as well as more work on barbel diet and spawning habitat.

The Society is also supporting a study of barbel genetics, and using scale samples collected by the BS and the EA the DNA fingerprint may be useful to identify the number of stocked and naturally recruited fish in a population. This work has now been published.

Teme barbel PhD project; the Society is also working closely with the EA and Severn Rivers Trust in supporting a major PhD project to investigate the barbel populations of the River Teme and Lower Severn, and this is now progressing. Barbel have been captured and radio-tagged, and their movements are being monitored. Monitoring of barbel spawning sites and a range of other studies are being carried out.

Barbel and gravels; the Society is helping to fund a PhD student at Loughborough University researching the effects of barbel foraging on gravel mobility and structure. The paper has now been published.

Barbel diet research; the Society is funding a literature review of scientific papers related to coarse fish/barbel diet and the potential effects of fishmeal-based pellet feed, and is also funding further experimental research to compare the health of barbel fed on a variety of feeds, using established techniques with barbel in captivity. The paper is completed and currently undergoing peer review, and the experiments are underway.

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River Cherwell Project; the Society has worked in partnership with the EA and The Wild Trout Trust, providing funding to provide instream cover for fish on this Thames tributary, in the form of large tree trunks, woody debris and live hanging willows.

Hampshire Avon habitat works; using funds raised in conjunction with the Avon Roach Project, the Society has removed redundant iron pilings from the river, and has several thousand pounds earmarked for further habitat improvements. Consent has been given to construct a fry bay for the benefit of coarse fish fry of all species, and this was completed in summer 2013. The Society contributed funds to a major habitat improvement project on the Severals fishery.  Further work is planned on the Avon, in partnership with the Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust, all supported by the Environment Agency and local fishing clubs.

Another fry bay was completed in August 2015, with plans for completing two more in 2016.

Bristol Avon habitat works;

the Society is helping to fund instream work for the benefit of barbel and other species in the Bristol Avon, in partnership with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust. This work has now been completed, with woody debris and fry bays completed.

More work on the Bristol Avon has been agreed, with tree pollarding and instream woody debris to be installed in the Marden in 2016.

River Lea stocking support; the Society has funded the stocking of 400 small barbel into a sidestream of the River Lea, in order to monitor their spread and survival and to help boost the local barbel population. The fish were stocked in Autumn 2013. The Society is helping to fund a barbel rearing project on the Lea at Kings Weir.

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River Rib restoration; the Society has committed funds to a major habitat restoration project on the Rib in Hertfordshire, in partnership with the EA and local fishing clubs and wildlife interests.

Barbel Society Handling Code; with help from film maker Hugh Miles, the Society has produced a DVD  to inform and educate anglers in the safe handling of barbel, which will be provided free to members, clubs, tackle shops and other outlets, as well as online and on Youtube. There have been more than 30,000 views on Youtube so far.

Barbel Society River Records; the Society has purchased the copyright and the large amount of hard copy data gathered over the years by Brian Dowling and Dave Mason,  has digitised the files, and aims to maintain the records long term. The Society maintains and administers the Official River Record List.

Barbel Spawning Survey; the Society is continuing to gather data on spawning activity of barbel nationwide, with some significant data already gathered.

All these activities require funding, which has been provided in the past by the generosity of major tackle manufacturers, tackle shops, fishing clubs, Barbel Society members and the angling community.

Pete Reading May 2016

1. To maintain regular contact with the Environment Agency in matters affecting our members.

2. To attend meetings of the relevant regional and national consultative bodies.

3. To encourage Barbel Society membership on as many consultative bodies as practically possible.

4. To maintain regular contact with Barbel Society members who are also members of their Regional Fisheries Consultative or Advisory Councils and to collect twice each year a report from them.

5. To report to members of Advisory or Consultative Councils any concerns or advice regarding potential discussions.

6. To maintain contact with E.A. Fisheries Officers and influence any research that may be of interest to Barbel Society members.

7. With the help of others attempt to persuade the E.A. to stock barbel in suitable rivers and to dissuade from stocking barbel in stillwaters.

8. Provide members with material to counteract any anti-angling comments either in the Press or verbal.

9. Investigate any matters of Research and/or Conservation concerns reported and take the necessary action.

The Barbel Society recognises that rivers are a precious natural resource, and are in increasing need of protection and conservation. The Society is broadly in support of the Environment Agency, Natural England and any other bodies who aim to preserve the biodiversity and sustainable natural populations of flora and fauna that are found in riverine habitats. Healthy barbel populations are intrinsically linked with healthy ecosystems, supporting a wide variety of wildlife, yet rivers are under pressure in terms of human demand for building, water resources and recreation that will need to be carefully considered and controlled.
The Barbel Society supports the stance of the Environment Agency in advising extreme caution with regard to developments in natural floodplains, which can have drastic consequences on both riverine habitats and human habitation or activity. Unnatural structures, such as weirs, dams and flood barriers should to be designed to have minimum impact on river flow and passage of migratory fish and fry.

A natural variety of river habitats,including bends, riffles, pools and overhanging trees, should be maintained as much as possible.

The Barbel Society supports the work of the Environment Agency in monitoring and enforcing legislation regarding water quality, and expects a more vigorous pursuit of polluters and tightening of consents. The Society supports the Angling Trust and any other bodies devoted to ensuring high quality water in our rivers, and will aim to educate it’s members on maintaining vigilance regarding chemical pollution.
Abstraction for domestic, agricultural and industrial use is likely to increase with increasing population both from borehole sources and directly from rivers. Consequent reduction in flow rates are potentially highly damaging, and the Barbel Society supports the Environment Agency in it’s efforts to manage and minimise demand.

The Society aims to educate it’s members in steps they can take to minimise domestic water usage.

The Barbel Society is concerned that unrestricted boat traffic can have serious negative effect on water quality and wildlife. Pollution from oil and fuel and disturbance to wildlife by noise, visual impact and wash are all clearly detrimental to the natural riverine environment.
Turbidity caused by motorised boat traffic has been of real concern on rivers like the Kennet, where canalised sections have an impact on the flow and water quality downstream.

The Society is opposed to increases in boat traffic on rivers, and expects increasing usage to be tightly controlled.

The Barbel Society supports the retention of the current Close Season on rivers, for practical, conservation and moral/ethical reasons.

1. River fish populations are much more difficult to manage than those in enclosed waters; they are subject to greater pressure from pollution and habitat degredation,and have to be naturally self-sustaining. Any disturbance of spawning shoals by anglers or other water users can only have a detrimental effect on spawning success and recruitment.
The Society view is that all coarse fish, particularly before, after or during spawning, benefit from a cessation of angling pressure, and that all riverside wildlife both flora and fauna benefit from a period of relatively undisturbed peace at times of springtime regeneration and breeding.

2.The moral and ethical arguments in favour of a rivers close season are felt strongly by many anglers, who may also have been opposed to the abolition of the stillwater close season. The Barbel Society respects and supports the view that a period of respectful relaxation is a good thing for both fish and the angler, as well as anglings public image.

3.Fish stocks in rivers are essentially shared between clubs or riparian owners with adjoining or opposite bank fishing, which would mean that an enormously complex and unfair situation would arise where those who wished to retain a close season would find it difficult to do so. Management and policing in such situations would be impossible to maintain.

The Barbel Society remains resolutely opposed to the stocking of barbel in stillwaters.
The barbel is clearly highly adapted to life in flowing water with consistently low temperatures and high oxygen levels, and requires great care on return to the water after capture.

There is little evidence that barbel already stocked into stillwaters thrive or survive in the long term, or that there is a strong or genuine demand from anglers for stillwater barbel. The Society urges fishery owners to refrain from stocking barbel into stillwaters, and also expects the Environment Agency to review their policy of allowing such stockings.

The moral and ethical arguments against stillwater barbel are also considerable.
Putting barbel into lakes is like keeping kestrels in a chicken coop.