Anglers will help riverfly survey

Fishermen along the Wensum are helping conservationists to record the number of resident riverflies – regarded as an important indicator of the river's health.

Flies are sensitive to changes in water quality, so the Wensum Riverfly Partnership aims to measure the size of the populations to help establish the biological condition of the watercourse.

That effort will now be helped by fishermen, who have been recruited under a new Anglers' Monitoring Initiative (AMI) to take full advantage of their regular visits to the river, designated a Special Area of Conservation.

Launched during a workshop at Taverham Mill Fishery and Nature Reserve, the AMI will train volunteers to monitor the number of macro-invertebrates – animals without a backbone which can be seen without a microscope.

Samples will be taken from eight sites on the river throughout the year to record families of mayfly, stonefly and caddis fly larvae, as well as freshwater shrimp.

The species they find will give the partnership valuable information about the health of the river, while the extra monitoring could provide the Environment Agency (EA) with an early warning of a pollution issue.

Bridget Peacock, director of the Riverfly Partnership said: 'The River Wensum project is an exciting collaboration – the first of its kind in this region. These trained volunteers are working in partnership with the EA and playing a key role in safeguarding the health of our rivers.'

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The Wensum Riverfly Programme is funded and supported by the EA, Anglian Water, the Norfolk Anglers' Conservation Association, Sayer's Meadow Fishery and Ketteringham's Fishery.

Amy Buckenham, environmental monitoring officer for the EA, said: 'It's good to be able to support the Riverfly volunteers – the extra people and pairs of eyes on the river bank will be really useful. It's great to see anglers getting involved in conservation which will ultimately benefit fish. We'd like to see more groups set up like this one.'

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