A report from the Avon Estuary Forum of 3rd March 2020

The Avon Estuary Forum (AEF) is a biannual meeting of all those agencies and individuals with a relevant interest although discussions often include upstream matters that might affect the estuary.   The Forum is usually held in Thurlestone Parish Hall and anybody is welcome to attend.   If you’d like to be added to the mailing lists for alerts, please contact nigel.mortimer@southdevonaonb.org.uk.

 

The meeting on 3rd March was my second as Chairman and I have decided to provide occasional reports  to widen the information base beyond the distribution of the formal notes that are provided prior to our next meeting (on 13th October in this case).

 

Ryan Hooper (Estate Manager & Bantham Harbourmaster) announced that the Bantham Estate would continue the operation of the Avon Patrol in 2020, financed as previously by South Hams DC and the Bantham Estate, with voluntary contributions from the Aune Conservation Association (ACA), the Avon Valley Ski Club (AVSC) and the Duchy of Cornwall.   Last summer, the revamped patrol made a valuable contribution to the safety and security of many estuary users.

 

There was further discussion, without resolution, about possible improvements to the Bantham/Bigbury ferry operation and how these might tie in with changes to the England Coast Path proposals from Natural England, to the advantage of walkers and regional tourism.  Funding is one unsettled issue.

 

Public participation in several consultations was invited.  The first involves the South Devon Catchment Partnership and ‘Challenges and Choices’ (see – http://south-devon.org/challenges-and-choices/).  That consultation explains why water is such a vital resource, describes the challenges that threaten the water environment, explores how we can work together to manage our waters, looks at who should pay for the actions needed and, importantly, invites input on all these issues.  In that context, there was considerable discussion about river water quality and how standards can be maintained in the face of severe Environment Agency staff cuts. The second consultation, open until 6th April, (see – https://consult.defra.gov.uk/mmo/draft-south-west-inshore-and-offshore-marine-plans/) is about marine planning in the SW, including the Avon Estuary (now designated as a Marine Conservation Zone).  We also heard about proposed new ‘bag limits’ that might be imposed by the Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (IFCA) on the hand collection of foreshore species such as bait worms, scallops, cockles, mussels and limpets but the deadline for that consultation has now passed!

 

As a direct outcome of the meeting, I have contacted Devon & Severn IFCA about local reports of diseased crabs and lobsters by AVSC members.    It seems likely, from a brief Internet search and the description provided at our meeting, that these crustaceans might be the victims of ‘black spot’ disease – a bacterial infection (see picture obtained from the internet) .

Have any other ‘potters’ seen evidence of this disease locally?   Please let us know.

 

The Outdoor Swimming Association has told me that there will be a new event this year – the Bantham ‘Boomerang’ on Friday 3rd July, whereby swimmers will enter the water at Bantham beach at around 1630 and swim upstream with the tide.  All swimmers will turn with the tide at 18.00 (wherever they may be!) and return to Bantham – the last swimmers are expected to be out of the water by 20.00.  The Bantham ‘Swoosh’ will take place on Saturday 4th July, with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 06.00 and exiting at Bantham by 09.15.  Please beware of swimmers and let’s hope nobody will get a dose of ‘black spot’!

OUTDOOR SWIMMING EVENTS – AVON ESTUARY

A message from the Outdoor swimming Society:-
We wanted to once again notify you of the Swoosh swimming event which will be taking place on Saturday 4 July 2020 with swimmers entering the water at Aveton Gifford from 6am and exiting at Bantham Beach by 9:15am.
We are also introducing a new swim in 2020: the Bantham Boomerang, to be held on Friday 3 July 2020. Swimmers will enter the water from Bantham beach at approximately 16:30 and swim upstream with the tide. All swimmers will turn with the tide at 18:00 (wherever they are in the river) and return to Bantham beach. We expect the last swimmer to be out of the water by 20:00.
We are once again working very closely with Aveton Gifford Parish Council and the Bantham Estate on these events. We will be having another 7 swimmers fundraising again this year for the Aveton Gifford Community Swimming Pool and Pre-school.

 

 

Tidal Road ‘beach clean’ Sunday 26th April 2020

CORONA VIRUS UPDATE-

Regarding the Aune Conservation Association’s Tidal Road clean up on 26th April, I am planning to leave attendance up to individuals although Surfers Against Sewage have cancelled their related beach clean events on that day.  The situation is changing on a daily basis, of course, but I figure a dose of fresh air and modest exercise, whilst engaging in a community task at a sensible and manageable distance from others, might do more good than harm at the moment.  Obviously, there will be no pub gathering afterwards!

Tidal Road clean up _ Sunday 12th January, 2020 at 1130 a.m.

The Aune Conservation Association will be organising its usual New Year clean up along the Tidal Road on Sunday 12th January, starting at 11.30am.   Low Water will be around 1300h.    Everybody is welcome to join in but please take note of our safety guidelines (see – http://auneconservation.org.uk/?page_id=791)
We usually have one group starting from Timbers car park  at AG to work downstream towards the stakes at Milburn Orchard and another starting from the Milburn Orchard car park, working back to AG.     Subsequently, a congenial meeting of the two teams in the Fisherman’s Rest would be a good way to start the afternoon.
Please mark this date in your diary.’

BANTHAM BOATS FILM

If you visit  www.thurlestoneparish.co.uk and go to ‘gallery’ there is a short film about the Bantham boats and sailing on the Avon.

A fascinating glimpse of recent history!