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Britain's game fishes - Mark Everard

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Britain's game fishes - celebration and conservation of salmonids
Mark Everard
Pelagic Publishing
UK Publication Date

Game fishes, particularly those of the salmon family, are critical indicators of the health of those ecosystems upon which we now know we are dependent. As the authors of this important environmental book argue, "Our game fishes [then] serve as more than merely an indicator of healthy waters. Instead, they can be regarded as iconic of the ecosystems in which they occur." Moreover, "the quality requirements of different types of fish population have formed the backbone of a great deal of water management in the UK, Europe and the USA over several decades."

With sections on how and why Britain's game fishes are under pressure from changes in land use, agriculture, housing needs, etc. - and their concomitant pollution effects - this book assesses how our knowledge of these game fishes reflect the changing values we place on our surrounding wildlife.

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Dr Mark Everard has a lifelong obsession with fish, water and the aquatic environment. Author of numerous books, magazine and scientific publications, many of them addressing fish and fishing, Mark is also a regular contributor to TV and radio. He is an adviser to government in the UK, India and South Africa on the sustainable use and management of water and other ecosystems, having also advised and conducted research right across the world. Mark is science adviser to the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) as well as vice-president of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), fellow of the Linnean Society, founding director of the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART), and a life member and former council member of both the Freshwater Biological Association (FBA) and the Angling Trust. Mark finds time to fish whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself, but most particularly in rivers accessible from his home in North Wiltshire where he lives with his partner Jackie, daughter Daisy and many tanks of fish.

One of the latest books (at least to cross mydesk) from the very prolific Mark Everardis Britain's Game Fishes which he has coauthored with Paul Knight. The subtitle iscelebration and conservation of salmonids,and indeed it is a celebration written in anengaging style and attempting the all-encompassing. As a life member and formercouncil member of the Freshwater BiologicalAssociation, Mark probably needs littleintroduction in terms of his credentials towrite about fish. What works particularlywell for me at least in this book is hiscollaboration with Paul presumably initiatedthrough the fisheries environmental charity,the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA).Paul is currentlv the Chief Executive whileMark acts as a science advisor to the S&TA,a body that has been extremely influentialin lobbying government departments andagencies to follow policies that protectaquatic environments for all dependentspecies, not just salmonids.

The content is divided into three broadsections. The first provides a generalintroduction to the native game fishes of theBritish lsles, spanning salmon, brown trout,grayling and the whitefishes, and with a quicknod to the familiar alien, the rainbow trout.For me, embroiled in fundamental sciencefrom day to day, I was a little disappointedwith these short chapters. Of course, muchof the generic content on life cycles etc can begleaned from the numerous books covering'fish of the British lsles' but I was expectingmore detail on the wealth of recent researchon the functional role of salmonids withinaquatic ecosystems, and more perhapson where our anadromous fish get to ontheir migrations that we have learned fromlarge scale studies in the last decade. As aspecific example, approximately 50% of thespace discussing the role of Atlantic salmonwas given over to the interaction with pearlmussel, which whilst of interest, does notmatch its role as predator, prey, host toparasites, and conveyor of productivity frommarine to freshwater ecosystems, and whichonlv warrants one sentence.

That minor gripe aside, the following twosections really comprise the 'meat' of thebook and these focus on past and currentpressures, and the outlook for the future. ltis here that Mark and Paul's combined wide-ranging knowledge brings all the historical,cultural, and environmental aspects fromthe truly global to the very local, intoperspective and in a comprehensive yetaccessible format. The final section onchanging rules, changing values, and peoplepower highlighted by the sterling work oforganisations such as the Wild Trout Trustand the numerous Rivers Trusts for example,brings the content bang up to date and backonto one's doorstep to assess and reflectupon 'what our game fishes have everdone for us'. While the book is clearly notaimed at the salmonid researcher, as a casestudy of environmental pressures on iconicspecies and what we can do about them, it iscertainly an accomplished piece of work andan enjoyable read from cover to cover.

Freshwater Biological Association News - Jon Grey

Keyword Index
Salmonidae - Great Britain.|Fishes - Great Britain.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
viii, 232

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