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DAFF asks land owners and the public for help to conserve Manx watercourses 8 September 2006

October signals the start of the salmon and trout spawning season on the Isle of Man so it is vital that owners and tenants of streams likely to be used by these fish seek approval for and complete any works likely to impact on the instream habitat before the end of September.

Disturbance to stream channels and banks during winter can easily lead to the smothering of salmonid eggs by silt, and young fish fry remain vulnerable to such disturbance until mid-summer. For this reason, disturbance to channels and alterations and repairs to stream banks are rarely allowed outside of the period July to September. During late summer, owners of salmonid streams must still seek approval from Inland Fisheries before causing any disturbance, and landowners or their tenants who do not comply risk prosecution under the Inland Fisheries Act 1976.

Under the Land Drainage Act 1934, owners/tenants of any type of watercourse must also seek approval from DoT for any instream or bank-side works. Owners of streams which are designated under this act as ‘Main Rivers’ must, in addition, seek approval from DoT if they wish to erect structures or plant trees and shrubs within 30 feet either side of the stream bank.

Several other pieces of legislation can also affect watercourse owners depending on the type of work they wish to undertake. For instance, the potential for disturbing nesting birds, an offence under the Wildlife Act 1990, must be considered between March and August. Details of how the various legislation applies are listed in the recently published Manx Watercourse Management Code. This leaflet also provides a map showing which of the Island’s streams are designated as Main Rivers, and therefore maintained by DoT, together with further information on rights, responsibilities and general watercourse management issues. It also provides a list of Government and non-Government contact details.

The Manx Watercourse Management Code can be obtained free of charge from DAFF’s offices in Douglas or Knockaloe or by calling Karen Galtress, River Management Officer on 651544 or 450736 or by email on Karen.Galtress@gov.im. Karen can also provide free advice, including on-site advisory visits on a range of watercourse management issues, including legal requirements, protecting water quality, minimising flood-risk, bank protection and habitat enhancement.

Karen Galtress says ‘Please seek advice before planning any work, which might affect the instream or bank-side habitat of a watercourse. Doing so not only avoids breaking legislation but also gives Government staff the opportunity to give advice which may make the job more cost-effective as well as wildlife-friendly.’

How you can help conserve Manx watercourses

Watercourse owners

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Be aware of your rights and responsibilities by familiarising yourself with the Manx Watercourse Management Code

If farming your land, follow the Code of Good Agricultural Practice for the Protection of Water

Seek advice & approval before commencing any works in-stream or along banks

Store grass cuttings and compost heaps at least 10m from stream banks

Check stream banks in spring and summer for invasion by Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and/or giant hogweed and seek advice on control methods

Everybody

Make sure washing machines and similar devices are plumbed in correctly

Report suspected poaching (tel. 812224/685857) and do not buy salmon or trout unless you are sure it has been caught by legitimate means

Report suspected pollution (tel. 697327) as rapidly as possible

Dispose of litter and other waste carefully and seek advice if garden waste contains invasive plants

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