Thursday, 5 February 2009

Fishing versus Health & Safety

I don't know about you but I have become increasingly perplexed by the term "health & safety". Over the last few years it has become a phrase that seems to be attached to just about everything including of course ... fishing. In fact even some of the courses available for wannabe fly fishing instructors now seem to be glorified "risk assessment tests" rather than actually ensuring that the candidate in question has the ability (and experience) to teach.

H&S also reared its ugly head on South West Lakes venue Wimbleball reservoir, a fishery close to my heart and many others. A couple of years back a plan was put in place to move the boat fishing pontoons from their original easily accessible location in the name of health & safety. The justification was that "the steps to the boat are too steep and someone may have a serious accident". This assumption was based on no accidents in the 20 odd year history of the lake! Whats more the many meetings that followed to determine the final outcome were in fact a monumental waste of time, the decision had been made.

So I was saddened to hear this week that Foremark Reservoir in Derbyshire has fallen foul of the H&S onslaught. Run by highly experienced angler, Phil Dixon, the lake has been put back on the map through Phil's determination and enthusiasm. Even more impressive when you consider that Phil is in his early 20s. Now he is threatened by Severn Trents health & safety officials who are about to close down three miles of bank fishing, effectively destroying 2/3rds of the space available. The reason? The authority are "concerned" that the public will get caught by anglers back casts. Anglers have eyes and so do the public. Many can speak too. Whatever happened to communication and common sense? There was another reason too. "Anglers may trip on the uneven surface of the dam wall". Quite incredible! See here for more on this story and check out Phil Dixons Foremark Reservoir here. Sadly I have never had chance to fish Foremark although Iain Barr who supplies a great deal of our shop flies is always raving about the quality and numbers of fish.

This story reminds me of a session I had on Farmoor last year, fishing from a dam. Was I more worried about slipping in or catching the huge, fin perfect fish on offer? Tricky question! And how about Dave Burton who has a really great blog here, check his session on 4th Jan which combined ice skating with fly fishing. He seems happy enough to me without the interference of good old Health and Safety!

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