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River authorities team up to clean foreshore for fishing competition

The Port of London Authority (PLA), London Port Health Authority and Thames21 have teamed up this week to get the Thames foreshore ready for an annual fishing competition, set to take place on the river next month.

Thirty members of the PLA and Port Health staff filled more than 20 yellow refuse sacks with food take-away trays, plastic bottles, straws and carrier bags as the group worked their way along the riverbank at Denton.

The operation has ensured that the riverbanks are clear of rubbish, ahead of the annual Thames Fishing Experiment on 21 October that the City of London Corporation – in its role as London’s Port Health Authority – has organised on the site since the early 1970s.

Jon Averns, director of London Port Health Authority, said: “The Thames Fishing Experiment is one of the longest-running ‘citizen science’ events in London and this year, it celebrates its 45th year. Since it started, the event has become crucial in helping us track the progressive recovery of the Thames from a biologically dead river in the mid-1960s to the vibrant one it is now, which is home to more than 120 different species of fish.”

PLA environment manager, Tanya Ferry added: “This is the second time we’ve done the clean up together. It was noticeable that, all morning, we were again picking up and bagging plastics: bottles and straws, coffee cup lids and food trays. Every single one of these items will have been in someone’s hand before it ended up in the river. “It really underlines again the importance of keeping rubbish out of the river and our Cleaner Thames campaign message: bin it for a Cleaner Thames!”

The clean-up was supported by Essex-based angler Mike Sharp who will be competing in the Fishing Experiment on 21 October. He commented: "I took part in today's event because, like many in the angling community, I understand the strong connections between recreational sea angling, conservation and the marine environment. It’s simple, by improving the habitat and by fishing in a sustainable way, you will catch more fish, see more species and lose less end tackle. The River Thames is a living example of this."

Thames21 team members provided expert oversight for the teams of volunteers. Thames21 is the environmental charity which has been bringing together communities and stakeholders in a vast volunteer effort to clean up the River Thames for more than 20 years. The charity was first established by an innovative charitable partnership with the PLA, bringing together community action and the professional expertise of the PLA’s driftwood operation, and today continues to develop towards its goal of a healthy, sustainable river network.

Jeremy Simons, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Port Health and Environmental Services Committee and a trustee of Thames 21, said: “This clean-up demonstrates the importance of partnership working on the Thames. We all have a common agenda to ensure the health of the River and its development as a sustainable resource, both for communities and people who rely upon it for their work.”

The PLA is the biggest active supporter of the Thames21, collecting and disposing of the rubbish recovered by the public at in excess of 20 similar foreshore clear ups a year, in addition to providing an annual financial contribution, plus substantial in-kind and “back office” support.

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Gareth Dorrian, corporate affairs manager, Port of London Authority

Tel: 01474 562251/07711 640099

Email: gareth.dorrian@pla.co.uk