50 years of River Thames environmental fishing project celebrated

The City of London Corporation is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Thames Fishery Research Experiment.

Since 1972 the environmental project has turned a passion for angling into a multi-agency citizen science exercise, using a fishing tournament to assess the health of the iconic River Thames.

The Experiment sees more than 80 anglers gather on the foreshore of the River Thames, at Denton, Gravesend, to catch, record, and return fish to the water.

Partners include the City of London Corporation, which is the London Port Health Authority; the Environment Agency; the Port of London Authority; the Fishmongers’ and Water Conservators’ Companies; the Thames Estuary Partnership; Thames21; and the Institute of Fisheries Management.

Officials establish the environmental condition of the River Thames each year by assessing the variety, number, and size of fish species caught over time.

The results provide valuable data and information to organisations including the Environment Agency. And over the years, the experiment has proven that the Thames remains the cleanest river in Northern Europe.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Port Health and Environmental Services Committee, Keith Bottomley, said:

“The Thames Fishery Research Experiment tracks the number and variety of species recorded over time. For 50 years, the results have provided consistent, comparable data which are analysed to highlight improvements in the River’s health.

“The results show a clear link between a clean, healthy river, and the diversity of species that live in it. It also highlights the connection between efficient pollution controls and better biodiversity.”

There has been a steady increase in the species recorded over time, with only Whiting, Eels, Flounder and Sole found in the early 1970s. Today an average of 7.5 different species are recorded every year.

As the London Port Health Authority, the City Corporation is responsible for all port health functions on the tidal Thames, covering 94 miles of water.

This includes handling imported food and feed controls; infectious disease controls; and food safety and hygiene, including water quality; shellfish controls; vessel inspections; and issuing ship sanitation documentation and environmental controls.

It covers the ports at London Gateway, Tilbury, Tilbury 2, Purfleet, Thamesport, Sheerness and London City Airport – and over 60 other wharves.

The City Corporation has been the Port Health Authority for the tidal Thames since the Public Health Act of 1872. 

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk