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Crucian Carp Crusader Wins Environmental Award

26.07.10

Peter Rolfe, Hugh Miles, Bernard Venables

The Angling Trust and the CLA Game Fair are delighted to announce that Peter Rolfe is the winner of the first Fred J Taylor Award for Environmental Stewardship in the world of Angling. Peter is pictured with his trophy here (left), along with the Arthur Oglesby Award winner Hugh Miles (centre) and Bernard Cribbins (right).

Peter was selected for his work over nearly four decades studying and conserving crucian carp, a species which has suffered a dramatic decline in numbers due to destruction of its habitat and hybridisation with feral goldfish and other carp. Peter was awarded with the Fred J Taylor Award at the CLA Game Fair on Saturday 20 July in the main theatre, along with a cash prize of £1,000 to spend on furthering his work.

In the 1970s, Peter restored, created and managed several field ponds for the benefit of crucian carp, tench and a host of other wildlife. Thousands of field ponds, once a common sight in the British countryside, have disappeared through neglect or deliberate infilling.

In the 1980s, as secretary of his local angling club, Peter then moved on to creating two larger lakes of 2 and 3 acres respectively, stocked with fish which had bred in the field ponds, and restoring two half-acre lakes dating back to Saxon times. The latter he still manages as fisheries and wildlife reserves.

In 1989, he set up a business raising water plants and fish, including crucian carp and tench. He and his partners went on to create more than 20 new ponds, providing thousands of fish for stocking throughout the West Country. In the same year, he supervised restoration of two Victorian estate lakes of 2 acres each, which went on to produce fish approaching record weights.

Now in his mid- seventies, Peter has just completed a book (Crock of Gold – Seeking the Crucian Carp, Mpress Ltd.) about crucian carp to pass on his knowledge to fishery managers following in his footsteps. This is the only book devoted entirely to this threatened species.

Angling Trust received a small number of very high quality applications for this new award, all of which were entirely eligible to win. However Peter’s nomination stood out as being the precise embodiment of everything the Trust was trying to achieve by creating this award in memory of Fred J Taylor.

Chris Yates, angling writer and star of the BBC TV series A Passion for Angling wrote in his testimonial to Peter’s work:

“for several years now I have fished a pair of Saxon field ponds beautifully restored by Peter Rolfe. Though small, these waters are now a favourite with me, not only because of their wonderful crucians and tench, but also because of their wilder inhabitants. In summer, the reedbeds are alive with damselflies and dragonflies; grass snakes bask on the banks, brook lampreys live in the feeder stream and the rare water vole lives under the banks. Last season, there was a barn owl nesting in an oak on the upper pond and I have often seen a pair of hobbies hawking for dragonflies there.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said:

“Peter has single-handedly contributed to the salvation of an important fish species for angling while at the same time restoring one of the country’s most threatened habitats: small ponds, along with the plethora of wildlife that are associated with them. We are privileged that he is the first winner of this award and hope that he will inspire others. We are very grateful to everyone who took the time to apply. We will be promoting the vast amount of work carried out by the angling community to Government in discussions about how we can contribute to the Big Society agenda.”

Vincent Hedley Lewis, Chairman of The CLA Game Fair Board said:

“Peter is an outstanding role model who hopefully will have inspired many people to improve the water aspects of their land. Improving environmental habitat is an invaluable asset to be appreciated with grateful thanks by generations to come.”

Peter Rolfe said:

“Fred J Taylor’s book on tench was one of the inspirations for my field pond work in the 1970s and I feel very honoured to have won an award named after him. I am grateful to the sponsors for this opportunity to highlight the plight of the crucian carp, a fish that has been under-valued until now. Their generosity will help me greatly in my latest project, the restoration of six derelict ponds, in two acres of marvellous wetland, where I plan to continue my research into this remarkable fish and to breed many more for waters all over the country.”

Notes to Editors:

1. Fred J Taylor. Extracts from an obituary in The Times.

Fred. J. Taylor, MBE, angler and writer, died on May 7, 2008, aged 89. He led a life exploring the outdoors, shooting and fishing. He was an expert chef and cooked much of the game he killed. He always had a passion for the environment in which he hunted. His first fishing piece appeared in Angling Times in 1954. He went on to write for many newspapers and magazines, among them The Daily Telegraph, the London Evening Standard, Shooting Times and Saga magazine. He produced numerous books, among them Angling in Earnest, Tench, A Guide to Ferreting, One for the Pot and Reflections of a Countryman.

2. The Fred J Taylor Award.

The Angling Trust, in conjunction with The CLA Game Fair, are honouring this great man’s memory with an annual award, the first of which is awarded to Peter Rolfe. A £1,000 cash prize will initially be offered, along with a certificate and trophy. The funds should be spent on furthering the activity for which the award was given and we will invite winners to report back the following year about how the funds were helpful.

Applications and nominations are requested from anyone who is, or knows someone else who is, involved in protecting or improving water habitats in England. Individuals, projects and organisations are all eligible for the award. Otherwise there are no constraints on applications. We are keen to highlight the magnificent work that anglers around the country do to clear up litter, restore damaged habitats and prevent pollution.

3. Peter Rolfe’s book, Crock of Gold – Seeking the Crucian Carp, can be obtained from Mpress 0845 408 2606 or at www.calmproductions.com.

4. List of Runners-up in alphabetical order:

Avon Roach Project: a project to reverse the decline in roach populations in the Hampshire Avon run by Trevor Harrop and Budgie Price by installing artificial spawning boards in the river and hatching the spawn in a hatchery at Ringwood. 80,000 one year old fry have been raised and released into stewponds in the past two years for release into the river.

Mr Jeff Marley was nominated by the York & District Amalgamation of Anglers, for whom Mr. Marley has been a committee member for over 24 years. He has in that time worked tirelessly as a volunteer to improve the club’s fisheries and virtually single-handedly built their Laybourne Lakes complex by de-silting a derelict pond and digging a new one. He installed platforms with disabled access around both waters and built a bridge to provide access to the island pegs.

Otterspool Angling Club, Watford was founded 20 years ago by a small group of anglers who secured a licence to fish a mile of the River Colne near Watford. In 2006, anti-social behaviour including littering, fires, poaching and vandalism on neighbouring waters threatened to see the river closed to fishing entirely. The club put a proposal to the Munden Estate to take on the additional mile and have since cleared it of all litter (including 67 black bags, a front door and a fridge) and have restored the habitat using large woody debris to secure the banks and create in-river habitat for spawning. Following a pollution incident in 2008, the club negotiated a 3 year fish stocking programme with the Environment Agency.

River Erewash Foundation: A project set up by anglers on the River Erewash, once the 2nd most polluted river in Europe, on the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The volunteers have installed natural flow deflectors, cleaned gravels, removed rubbish (including a 3 piece suite, a mountain of shopping trolleys and a complete fitted kitchen), monitored invertebrates and has worked with local schools.

Sankey Angling Club have had the fishing rights to Dimmingsdale Reservoir, and a stretch of the adjacent Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal in Staffordshire since the 1940s. The club has improved the environment of their waters with the help of countless volunteers aged from 7 to 75. Work has included rescuing fish from the canal in a pollution incident, management of water vegetation, installation of 30 bird and bat boxes, maintaining fish stocks, introducing 40 metres of floating island fish havens, removal of mink.

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