Who We Are

The Test and Itchen Association is dedicated to conserving and protecting the Hampshire chalkstreams. We currently have about 500 members. We work closely with a range of partners both inside and outside government who share our conservation and fishery interests to promote and protect the interests of our members.

History

The Association was formed in 1907 at a meeting of riparian owners and lessees convened by Sir William Portal with the object of promoting the interests of fly-fishing for trout on the Test and Itchen. In 1946 it was incorporated under the Companies Act as a company limited by guarantee. At the same time its scope was widened to include salmon fishing interests. In 2011, the Association extended its activities to include the River Meon.

Originally known as the Test and Itchen Trout Fishing Association the name was shortened to the Test and Itchen Association in 1993 to reflect our wider conservation and environmental interests.

Organisation

The Association is steered by a Board of Directors who are elected by the membership. The Directors have a wide range of expertise covering river and estate management and practical river keeping and are able to draw on their extensive fishery, environmental, legal and scientific experience. The Board meets four times per annum.

The day-to-day activities of the Association are managed by an Executive Director, Jeremy Legge, and an Administrator, Ingrid Burt.  The Association also has a number of part-time volunteer Wardens who help coordinate and facilitate the weed cuts on the Test.

The Association’s office is at Kimbridge on the River Test.

The River Wardens

Membership

River Keepers during weedcut

Members on a river visit

There are three main categories of membership.

River Owners. The core membership of the Association has always been the owners of the Test and Itchen and their tributaries. There is no obligation for a river owner to be a member of the Association, but the majority of them choose to be so. More than 90% of the Test and Itchen is currently owned by members of the Association, ranging from large Estates with many miles of river, to individuals with a couple of hundred yards. The Association currently has over 150 Owner members.

River Keepers. The Hampshire chalkstreams are heavily managed rivers which owe much of their beauty, environmental richness and world-class fishing to the dedicated efforts of river keepers. Some large Estates employ a number of full-time keepers. Other owners rely on part-time contractors or volunteer keepers. All river keepers actively involved in managing the chalkstreams are encouraged to be members of the Association. We currently have about 100 Keeper members.

Ordinary members. Membership of the Association is open to anyone who shares our interest in conserving and protecting the Hampshire chalkstreams. Our Ordinary members tend to be those who spend time by the chalkstreams, whether fishing or simply enjoying their unique environmental treasures.

River Owners pay an annual subscription based on the size of their river holding. Membership is free for river keepers. Ordinary members pay an annual subscription, currently £40 per annum. You can find out more about how to join the Association on the Join Us page of this website.

Objectives

The objectives of the Association are defined in the Articles of Association. They are:

  • To conserve the waters of the Test, Itchen and Meon and to prevent anything that might damage them
  • To promote Game Fishing on the Hampshire chalkstreams
  • To facilitate and coordinate good river management practice

We do this by:

  • Identifying threats to the rivers and taking action to address these threats
  • Promoting the adoption of good river management practices
  • Maintaining constructive relationships with those responsible for regulating the rivers
  • Working with other like-minded organisations and individuals to protect and promote our members interests
  • Commissioning and sponsoring research to understand better the ecology of the chalkstreams

Activities

We undertake a range of activities to achieve our objectives.

  • Meetings.  Two formal membership meetings are held each year: an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the spring; and an Autumn Meeting after the end of the fishing season in October. In addition to conducting formal Association business, guest speakers are invited to talk on topics of interest to our members.  Most summers we hold an event at which our members have an opportunity to learn more about chalkstream activities (fly-fishing masterclasses, fly-tying demonstrations, photography workshops, botanist-guided walks etc.). We hold regular meetings with riparian owners to discuss their concerns and aspirations.
  • Training.  We run river visits and workshops to explore different approaches to river management.  We arrange training courses on subjects such as river fly (invertebrate) monitoring.
  • Research.  The Association sponsors research projects aimed at developing a better understanding of the river environment. Previous work has included: a study of the impact of fish farming on the Test and Itchen; an appraisal of the condition of the rivers, including the effect of river flows on water quality and pollution levels; and a study of algal growth in the rivers. More recently the Association has collected and analysed invertebrate samples to identify water quality issues.
  • Publications.  Our members receive the annual Rivers Report, containing reports on the fishing season, articles of interest and information on the Association’s past activities and upcoming events. They also receive Newsletters containing updates on the Association’s activities and information of interest to our members. To mark the Association’s centenary in 2007, we published “Chalkstreams”, a book covering the natural history and management of chalk rivers.
  • Legal action. In the past, the Association has found it necessary to take legal action to deal with serious threats to the river environment. It has also fought applications for water abstraction, gravel extraction and the discharge of effluents. It has prevented the establishment of navigation rights on the River Itchen. It takes an active interest in planning applications which might lead to adverse impacts on the rivers.
  • River management coordination. The Association agrees each year with the Environment Agency dates for weedcutting on the Test and Itchen. The Association’s wardens monitor the weed cuts in order to minimise the disruption for river users.

Members Day at Leckford

Casting Clinic at a Members Day

Partners

The Association engages with a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations in pursuit of its objectives. Most of these organisations (and the Association) are represented in the Test and Itchen Catchment Partnership (TICP) which meets quarterly to provide coherence and strategic direction on water resource issues in Hampshire.

The Association’s two key governmental partners are the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England (NE).

We do not see eye-to-eye with the EA and NE on all issues, but there is a broad coincidence of interest in protecting and conserving the chalkstream environment.

Environment Agency

The EA is a non-departmental public body reporting to the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Amongst other responsibilities, the EA has a duty to maintain and improve the quality of surface water bodies and groundwater. It is also a regulator of angling, selling more than one million rod licences per annum. The Association engages with the EA on a broad range of issues including discharge regulations, abstraction licences, water quality monitoring, river restoration, flood prevention and the control of poaching. The EA’s local office is in Romsey.

Natural England

NE is a non-departmental public body reporting to the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is responsible for ensuring that England’s natural environment, including its flora, fauna and freshwater, is protected and improved. Of particular interest to the Association is NE’s role in designating and protecting Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), including those covering much of the Test and Itchen valleys. NE’s local office is in Eastleigh.

The Association works closely with a number of national and local non-governmental organisations. Some of the most important of these organisations are:

Salmon and Trout Conservation

STC is a national charity campaigning for the protection and conservation of wild fish. They are an active and effective partner. The Association works closely with them on a range of local chalkstream water quality and water quantity initiatives, including invertebrate and other forms of water quality monitoring and sustainable abstraction.

Wild Trout Trust

WTT is a conservation charity working across Britain and Ireland to improve habitats for wild trout. Their Conservation Officers offer practical advice and deliver habitat improvement projects. The Association and our members have worked closely with WTT on river restoration projects.

Angling Trust

The Angling Trust represents all game, coarse and sea anglers in England and Wales, campaigning on environmental and angling issues. They fight pollution, over-abstraction, poaching, unlawful navigation and a host of other threats to angling.

Fish Legal

Fish Legal uses the law to protect fishery interests. The Association and many of our members have sought their help and advice on a variety of issues, including abstraction.

Wessex Rivers Trust

The Association was instrumental in setting up Wessex Rivers Trust (WRT) in 2009. Part of a national network of River Trusts, WRT is a local environmental charity involved in the protection of rivers in the Wessex region. The Association has worked closely with WRT on the production of Invertebrate Fingerprinting Studies for the Test, Itchen and Meon, using river fly monitoring to identify threats to chalkstream water quality. WRT also works together with Association members to enhance their fisheries through habitat enhancement and river restoration projects.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

HIWWT is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts in the UK. It manages over 50 local wildlife sites and works with landowners, including many of our members, to protect and conserve chalkstream habitats. They are also co-hosts, with WCSRT, of the Test and Itchen Catchment Partnership.

Campaign for the Protection of Rural England – Hampshire

CPRE Hampshire is a charity campaigning to protect and preserve the Hampshire countryside. The Association has benefited from CPRE’s planning expertise in opposing major developments that threaten the Hampshire chalkstreams.

The Piscatorial Society

Founded in 1836, the Piscatorial Society fly fishes around 20 miles of chalkstream water, and runs a programme of meetings, workshops and social events for its members. Deeply committed to the conservation of chalkstream ecology, the Society has a full-time professional fisheries team that combines evidence-based strategies with the latest techniques in habitat management. The Association works closely with the Piscatorial Society on a range of river management issues.