Thames Water Pay Up & The Vandace Returns

Sometimes it can feel like there’s never any good news to share regarding the waterways of Great Britain…

…thankfully this month we have a couple of pieces, as well as some general bits of housekeeping for any anglers out there.

For those still hoping to get some fishing done, in this particularly pleasant run of nice weather that we’ve been having, you’ll have to be careful what you catch. For another 10 weeks or so, the catching of coarse fish is strictly off-limits for any would-be fishermen. Coarse Fish, such as the barbel or the chub, are always at the risk of over-fishing. Every year, the UK government enforces a strict ‘close season’ on these fish, in order to give them a chance to recover and breed.

In this down time, members of the Environment Agency will be aiding fish in distress, improving habitats around the country and helping to restock the rivers – with the aim of repopulating the rivers by 450,000 fish. Enforcement teams have been in operation since the embargo began on March 15th, checking the licenses of fishers (available here at £30 for the year) and carrying out up to 380 targeted patrols. 70 individuals have been found fishing on off-limits grounds – a little late getting the memo, apparently…

The Environment Agency has been busy this month, not only have they been halting illegal fishing, but they’ve also settled the biggest case of pollution in their history.

Thames Water Utilities were found to be negligently polluting the water, leading to death of wildlife and distress to the public. The Utilities company will be fined over £20.3m, the largest number in UK history, in response to their repeated illegal discharge of sewage into the Thames.

Throughout a period from 2012 to 2014, the prosecution examined 6 cases of negligent pollution that severely affected the wildlife and water quality throughout the River Thames. Wastewater sites in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire repeatedly discharged poorly treated raw sewage as well as untreated waters directly into rivers. Members of staff raised their concerns but were ignored and thousands of high priority alarms were disregarded.

The Environment Agency spent months investigating this particular case, with dozens of officers working around the clock in order to respond to reports of pollution as well as clean up the waters. Several methods of investigation, including intelligence gathering, interviewing and in depth analysis were used in order to supply the court with the requisite information to reach the conclusion that it did.

Finally, one last piece of news that is truly good news…

The Vendace (otherwise known as coregonus albula) has made a welcome return to the UK’s freshwater systems. The fish, one of the rarest of its kinds in the UK, is known for being a relic of the ice age, with fossils of its remains being discovered to be more or less the same as its current incarnation. Populations of the animal were noted to have all but disappeared during the 1990s, this drop in numbers was largely blamed on the introduction of new species as well as industrial pollution.

The spotting was caught on camera by the Environment Agency who were happy to report that England’s rivers are the healthiest that they’ve been in 20 years. Salmon, sea trout and other species have slowly been returning to the waters of Great Britain as the waters have cleared significantly since the grim times of the Industrial Revolution.

Don’t forget, you’ll have to wait until June 15th to fish for those lovely coarse fish!

Read More

Efficiently Farming American Heroes

American has been working hard to shake of its reputation as a gas-guzzling nation of meat-eaters.

Leading the charge are a dedicated band of agriculturalists who are choosing to put the environment first, whilst still creating profitable businesses; demonstrating how margins can be increased by using truly innovative techniques.

In his book , The Lean Farm, Ben Hartman strives to show how farmers can increase their profits by reducing their land size.

40% of all the food produced in America, inevitably, goes to waste.

In a land where over 42 million people live in houses with insecure sources of food, there’s clearly something wrong with the way this country’s production lines are functioning.

Ben decided to make a change, starting with his own holding. He tackled efficiency in his farm by reducing his holding from 3 acres down to 1, growing 30 varieties of specialist vegetables and fruits. By staggering his planting schedule he has been able to maximise crop yield and reduce his waste by a fifth; he’s now reaping the rewards as his profits are skyrocketing.

Its not just farming in the countryside that is improving leaps and bounds in innovation.

Marianne Cufone’s own brand of ‘recirculating farm’, in her home city of New Orleans, is proving that large scale farming can be achieved with the smallest of plots.

The third most poverty stricken county in the States, healthy food is in short supply in Louisiana, with 18% of homes not having access to good sources of nutrition. To show how ordinary people could grow their own healthy ingredients with limited space, Marianne used homegrown bamboo to create scaffolding that could support multiple stacks of plots.

Growing staples such as cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries; she used an eight square foot, rubber lined pond for irrigation and fish waste as fertiliser. This kind of setup can be erected for $6,000 and could potentially be installed anywhere.

Environmentally friendly farming in America is also learning to embrace emerging technologies like AI.

Irving Fain’s Bowery Farming uses hundreds of sensors connected to a massive network in order to measure the health of the crops in inside his indoor vertical farm.  Every possible variable is accounted for, from moisture to LED lights to the plant feed, this allows Irving to produce enough veggies to deliver to three Whole Food stores (as well as a number of restaurants) without the use of pesticides.

Considering that his farm uses 95% less water than the average US holding and the food travels less than 10 miles to reach its destination, its hard to see how food production could get much greener.

However, the food product that is at the root of our current environmental woes is the one that is most widely eaten: meat.

Not only does meat production require a mammoth amount of water, it also ends up producing an insane amount of methane gases. Although hundreds of thousands of vegans argue that we can halt this by simply not eating animal-products, a handful of companies have sprouted up to offer another alternative.

Uma Valeti is one such innovator, attempting to grow meat in a lab. Cruelty free and without the same environmental impacts, Memphis Meats debuted their first lab grown chicken breast this year, although it cost $9,000 to create – food critics reported that it tasted just like the real thing!

Thanks to innovative startups and ambitious farmers like the above, America is forging its own path into a greener future.

Lets just hope we can keep up! 

Read More