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Anglers support new initiative to restore rivers in UK and rest of Europe


WFD Mark Owen + Pons x550px
Mark Owen, Angling Trust's Head of Freshwater, with Genevieve Pons,
Director of WWF's European Policy Office

The Angling Trust is supporting the Living Rivers Europe initiative, launched this week by the European Anglers Alliance, WWF, European Environmental Bureau, European Rivers Network and Wetlands International. Living Rivers Europe has published a policy document that sets out a strong vision of healthy river ecosystems, flourishing with wildlife to the benefit of society at large, the economy and sustainable development in Europe.

To make this vision a reality and give our water ecosystems a real future the Living Rivers Europe initiative stresses the importance of maintaining an ambitious EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which is particularly important in the UK in light of the plan to leave the European Union. The Directive requires member states to achieve a standard of good ecological status in all rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

Living Rivers Europe represents a dedicated movement of over 40 million people across Europe, determined to ensure that the loss of aquatic wildlife is halted and reversed and that European waters are managed more sustainably.

Living Rivers Europe calls for:

1. Improved implementation and enforcement of the WFD through: more ambitious River Basin Management plans; restrictive application of exemptions to the Directive; a shift to nature-based solutions to flood and drought; fair pricing of water; the polluter-pays principle and a halt to the construction of barriers to free-flowing rivers.

2. Effective integration of water management aspects into relevant sectoral policies by ensuring that agriculture, energy, transport and flood risk management policies are aligned with the Directive and that synergies are maximised.

3. WFD’s high standards of water resources and ecosystem protection are enhanced rather than weakened.  These include:
  • All water bodies should be covered by the Directive;
  • The objective of good status should be legally binding and time-limited;
  • No water body can further worsen from its initial status;
  • Water users and polluters should pay for the costs of water management (user- and polluter-pays principle);
  • Water bodies can only be considered healthy once the levels of all indicators of ecosystem health are in good status (One-out, all-out rule);
  • All stakeholders should have the opportunity to actively engage in WFD implementation.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: “Our water environment throughout Europe has never faced so many threats, and we have never had a better opportunity to face up to them than we have with the Water Framework Directive. Our organisations have campaigned and taken legal action to ensure that it is properly implemented in the UK and we will continue to work closely with WWF and the European Anglers Alliance to raise the importance of healthy water ecosystems for wildlife, people and the economy up the political agenda in this country and throughout the rest of Europe.”

Contact: Angling Trust Eastwood House, 6 Rainbow Street, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 8DQ
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