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tv   Fishing with Feargal Sharkey  BBC News  January 9, 2022 4:30pm-4:46pm GMT

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hello, this is bbc news. the headlines... the education secretary for england backs reducing the covid isolation period from seven days to five. the australian government did not give assurances to novak djokovic that he could enter the country without a vaccination, according to documents filed before tomorrow's court hearing. russian troops arrive in kazakhstan — there is relative calm there, after six days of violence that killed 164 people. an afghan baby, separated from his parents in kabul during the chaos of the us withdrawal, is reunited with relatives. now on bbc news, punk and clean rivers campaigner fergal sharkey talks to the bbc�*s climate editor, justin rowlatt,
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about how he ended up the champion of britain's waterways. i'm going fly fishing with britain's most high—profile river campaigner, the pop star fergal sharkey. he is probably best known for this song. # i'm going to hold you, going to hold you tight. # get teenage kicks right through the night. the dj john peel described teenage kicks as the best pop song ever written. fergal had other top ten hits and a long career behind the scenes in the music industry, but now he is pretty much a full—time campaigner. scooby—dooby—doo. so i want to know how a working class punk who grew up in derry during the troubles ended up as the champion of britain's rivers. and along the way, he's going to try to teach me how to fly fish. so, one word of warning
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foryou, fergal. i have never... i've done the sort of angling with a float, whatever you call it. but i've never done fly fishing. as izaak walton said, "is it not an art to catch a trout with a fly?" can you count to three? can i count to three? i think i can manage that, yes. you're going to do fine. you're going to be ok. let's get going. i'm not sure fergal sharkey realises the scale of the challenge he is taking on. so, as we can tell, we have a very handy cameraman as a target here. go for it. see if you can take him out. so, what we can do is one, two, three. it's simple. one, two, three. and you are sort of feeding it with that hand a little bit? i'm just letting it run through itself. if you get enough energy into it, the line itself will extend and shoot out all by itself. i guess it's my turn now. just go for it. one, two... oh, it's up in the tree! well, the good news is you're not dropping your back cast.
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how did...? i mean, because you grew up in derry in northern ireland, didn't you? yep. and you were a working class lad. yeah. how did a working class punk from derry end up...? this is considered the gentleman's sport! it's a long time since anybody called me that, i have to tell you. well, ironically enough, if you want to get into fly fishing, there is no finer place than northern ireland. a, it's not considered elitist because lots of people do it. it's cheap, it's easily accessible and it's open to all. so, by way of example, when i was growing up in derry i could go to the middle of town, get on a bus and, 20 minutes later, be standing on the banks of a river on the edge of derry called the faughan. and, to this day, it's still got salmon running up the river faughan. and i think, at the time, membership of the faughan anglers association was, like, 15, 20 quid or something.
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and once that cross—community? yeah, there was never... i don't remember on the bank of any lock, lake, river... so you might be fishing next to a protestant, there are bombs going off and you're like, "how's the fish rising? 0h, there's a good spot down there for trout." you have to bear in mind that this thing about catholics and protestants, i had neighbours that were protestants. did it ever come up? no. it didn't. because, ironically enough, they were living the same kind of lives. the brown trout in the river are out of season, so we're going after a related species called grayling. one of the beauties about grayling is not only are they a phenomenally sensitive fish, incredibly sensitive to water quality. so if you've got grayling... you're doing well. ..you know your river is in good shape. he says his character was forged early on in life. growing up in derry in particular, northern ireland in general, during the late �*60s and �*70s, and particularly coming
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from a republican background, there was all the disruption and the devilment and the punkish attitude you ever needed. was out there, and you wanted it. it was there on the streets. well, bearing in mind my parents, like a lot of parents, were out there on civil rights marches. shall we just say there was only enough room for punky kind of attitude. and, ironically enough, it was one of the things that was a driver of the undertones. in that, that's why we wrote songs about chocolate and girls. can you think of a better way of spending a morning? it's not bad, is it? when fergal sharkey hit the big time and moved to london, he kept up his fly fishing hobby. and being an enterprising sort, he ended up as chairman of the oldest fly fishing club in england, the amwell magna in hertfordshire. pointed the rod down at the river.
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all right, start from there. i think i let it lie on the water for too long. that's ok. this is not as easy as fergal makes it look. rivers have become a real passion for you, haven't they? well, ironically enough, that goes back to me becoming chairman of the amwell magna — in that, as part of the handover, i began to realise that there had been a big issue involving the drop in the volume of water in the river. it's a conversation that had actually been going on with the environment agency and the local water company for 15, 16 years. i could not comprehend why anybody was still talking about something 16 years later. so what that taught me was, itjust made me curious as to why, ultimately, a bunch of old men who just wanted to go fishing had
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to go to all of thah trouble with the charity and spend a year and a half digging out information, freedom of information requests, putting our case together, taking the environment agency to the high court, just to get them to do the right thing. it does seem extraordinary, doesn't it? i stupidly, kind of philosophically went, "if we had to do all of that, what else isgoing on?" at that point, as i now describe it, we got an itch and stupidly i scratched that itch. started scratching. every time i scratch that itch, ijust end up with a bigger itch. he means the more he researched the issues facing britain's rivers, the more serious he realised the problems were. every single river in the country is polluted. i didn't make that up — that's the environment agency data. truth is, one of the biggest sources of pollution is the water industry. they're then filling... pretty much every river in the country is now contaminated
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with sewage to some degree. they're saying that these are sewage overflows that are required because the system is flooding and they need to clear the water out. that's basically their argument, isn't it? and it's also an argument that verily handily overlooks the fact that this country was taken to the european court ofjustice in 2012, because curiously enough there's quite an extensive bit of legislation about water companies and how and when they may be allowed to dump sewage into rivers. and the european court ofjustice ruled that what's going on in this country is illegal and sewage overflows should only ever be used in exceptional situations. so we now know that last year they spent 3.1 million hours on 400,000 separate occasions. is anything remotely exceptional about any of that? 3.1 million hours, 400,000 separate occasions. correct. we're now beginning to think that is a gross underestimation
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of what is going on. to such an extent thatjust three weeks ago, defra, the environment agency, have now announced a major investigation into the operation of 2,000 sewage works in england. now, that is a triumph for campaigners like yourself. it's notjust you, is it? there's an army of anglers, environmentalists and other campaigners... fergal says his experience of the troubles explains a lot about his, er, direct approach to campaigning. i've watched plumbers and electricians and school teachers bring down the government in northern ireland in the 19705. so, of course you can. why not? they're doing the wrong thing, let's go and fix it. simple. that led me onto the journey i've been on over the last four years now. and directing his considerable energies into river campaigning has transformed people's perception of him, says fergal. for decades of my life,
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i could walk into little pubs in rural videos in this country. —— rural villages. people invariably would want to talk about music. in the modern world, it happened quite recently, i walked into a rural pub in an isolated little village and the barman wanted to talk about rivers. and that for me is the really intriguing shift that's now happening, that normal people are going, "i had no idea about this river thing, fergal. it's bloody outrageus. i'm absolutely furious." "i didn't realise you were a singer, fergal. teenage kicks? did you sing that?" such is the crazy life i lead. he doesn't plan to stop campaigning any time soon. in fact, he �*s got a new target in his sights. the big thing that you've been campaigning on has been the issue of sewage. the bigger problem of pollution in the rivers doesn't come from sewage. well, it doesn't. i will happily admit i picked on sewage because it was a very simple, direct message that was easily communicated. the barman in the little rural pub,
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everybody gets the idea. the truth is, the biggest polluter in this country is actually agriculture and the industrialisation of food production and meat production, chickens. what is the problem with agriculture? two fold, it's basically slurry and fertiliser running off fields into rivers. this is fertiliser, so you might think, "maybe that's the good thing? maybe the weeds would enjoy a little extra..." horrendously bad thing. someone sent me pictures yesterday of lake windermere. again, one of our national treasures. there's green algae in lake windermere because all of that fertiliser creates a massive explosion in the population of little micro—organisms. the simple truth of the matter is, the fish actually suffocate because of lack of oxygen in the river or the lake, and that's the modern world we're creating. go for it.
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as you've probably guessed, we didn't catch anything. but as i'm learning, that is not really the point. it's about being out beside a beautiful river, putting the world to rights. here you go, my boy. that's what i need. cheers. i'll stick with the good ol�* british cup of tea. thanks for teaching me a good lesson. maybe i'll catch something next time. welcome to the world of fly fishing. we have seen some welcome sunshine across much of the uk today. it will turn cold quickly tonight, a few showers to move away then we will have clearer skies for a while, more cloud coming in from the west, from the atlantic, bringing rain into western areas. by the end of the night, temperatures lifting across the eastern side of the uk,
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could be an early frost in eastern areas, especially around aberdeenshire. with that cloud coming in, cloudierfor tomorrow, rain or drizzle moving eastwards. most of the wet weather in the north—west with stronger wind, northern and western parts of scotland. temperatures higher than today for the eastern side, making eight celsius, then the west double figures, could make 13 in northern ireland. not a great deal of rain to come, weatherfront moving down across the uk weak, but will linger and keep more cloud on tuesday in the far south, otherwise those places will see some sunshine.
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a minister says cutting covid isolation to five days in england would help deal with staffing shortages. the us has already made that move. here the education secretary says any change would be led by advice from the uk health security agency. the reason i think it's important that we keep it under review is becasue obviously it would help with staff absenteeism. and also coming up on the programme: djokovic versus the australian government — there are just hours to go to the tennis star's appeal against deportation. a baby separated from his family in the chaos of kabul airport last august has been reunited with relatives. and england deny australia a clean sweep in the ashes, as the fourth test ends in a draw.

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