Anglers' Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI)

Anglers' Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI)

Anglers and local community groups are often seen as natural guardians of the river environment, because they are in an ideal position to monitor the health of the watercourses they fish and live near. The Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) has been pioneered by the Riverfly Partnership to provide a simple, standardised monitoring technique which groups can use to detect any severe perturbations in river water quality, and put them in direct communication with their local ecological contact at the Environment Agency (EA) / Scottish Environment Protection Agency - participating areas (SEPA) / National Resources Wales (NRW) / Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). Used alongside routine monitoring by the EA / SEPA / NRW / NIEA, this ARMI scheme ensures that water quality is checked more widely, and remedial action is taken at the earliest opportunity if any severe perturbations are detected. This active monitoring also acts as a deterrent to incidental polluters. Successful schemes are underway in catchments across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, with data centrally captured on the Riverfly Partnership website. Verified data is freely available to view and download under the terms of the Open Government Licence. 

The Riverfly Partnership receives funding to coordinate the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative in England from fishing licence sales and a Water Environment Improvement Fund grant through the collaborative agreement with the Environment Agency.

History of the ARMI

The Riverfly Partnership Angler's Monitoring Initiative is a result of collaborations between:

  • the Riverfly Recording Schemes for Ephemeroptera (Craig Macadam) and Trichoptera (Ian Wallace of Liverpool Museum), the latter of which was established in 1970's
  • Cyril Bennett's pioneering monitoring work on the River Wey (1980's onwards). Similar work was taking place on the river Don by Stuart Crofts (first published in 2000), and on rivers in south east Wales by Dai Roberts, amongst others.
  • Cyril Bennett, Warren Gilchrist and colleagues from the John Spedan Lewis Trust for the Advancement of the Natural Science who deliver riverfly identification courses at the Leckford Estate on the River Test;
  • Steve Brooks and Peter Barnard, Entomologists at The Natural History Museum, London, who ran entomology courses for anglers in the 1980's

The collaboration was brought together in 2002 as a Natural History Museum / Natural England Partnership Project. The 2004 Riverfly Conference, Riverflies - a beacon of environmental quality, which led to the establishment of the Riverfly Partnership, demonstrated overwhelming support of the monitoring initiative. The initiative was endorsed by the Salmon and Trout Association and led to a pilot phase in collaboration with the Environment Agency (EA) with the associated publication being developed with the Field Studies Council (FSC)

In 2006 the Riverfly Partnership trailed the Test Version of the publication with the EA, in association with Ryedale Anglers, Taunton Fly Fishers, Eden Rivers Trust, Rhymney and Sirhowy Monitoring Group and Frensham Fly Fishers amongst others. In early 2007 the Scottish Environment Protection Agency was approached and officially joined the initiative.

The national launch of the Anglers Monitoring Initiative took place in March 2007 at the second National Riverfly Conference, How good is your river? which was held at The Natural History Museum, London.

The Riverfly Partnership, in collaboration with local organisations, continues to lead the initiative to meet it's core aims of working to help protect the water quality of watercourses and conserve their riverfly populations. The Riverfly Partnership is a network of organisations committed to furthering the understanding and conservation of riverfly populations.