Well, this my first blog and can I say what a privilege and honour it is to be elected Chairman of the Institute.  I entered the world of fisheries and joined the IFM in 1985 as an undergraduate under the teaching of Roland Bailey and Peter Williams at Chelsea College.  I will always be grateful to them for inspiring my choice of a fulfilling career. For those who don’t know me, I spent 30 years in fisheries and many other varied roles in the National Rivers Authority and Environment Agency in Wales and the South West.  I left the EA in September 2016 to set up my own consultancy.  Most of my work since is with the Sustainable Eel Group – seeking to save the European Eel from its decline.  I live in Somerset and have the delight of the rich and varied Somerset Levels and Mendip Hills on my doorstep, to walk with my family and dog, and to cycle with friends.

A huge thank you to Eamon Cusack, our previous Chairman.  Eamon was asked to step in as Chair by our late John Gregory ‘just for a year’.  That was over five years ago and we just couldn’t let him go! Eamon’s gentle but persuasive and consensual style has prompted excellent team-work within the Institute which is why we are now in our best position ever for providing services to members and other customers.  And anyone who can bear at least six Ryanair flights from Ireland a year deserves a medal!  Thank you, Eamon for your wisdom, patience, guidance and leadership.

I’ll seek to fill this blog with topical news and views, from experiences in my work life – which, apologies, will be 90% about eels; progress with the Institute’s development; and snippets and notable news from IFM and the world of fisheries.

Brexit is constantly in the news, and this also remains the greatest challenge and potential opportunity for fish, fisheries and the environment in the foreseeable future.  Our policy team and specialist sections have been working particularly hard to influence government and respond to consultations, and this is likely to continue over the next 12 months. All our position statements and responses to consultations are published on the IFM website under Policies. Thanks in particular to Miran Aprahamian and Steve Colclough for their hard work on this recently.

Our Executive Committee met on 17 January.  This team is composed of the Institute’s most senior officers and is responsible for delivering the Institute’s business, having been agreed and directed by Council. We are currently finalising a two year development plan to support the current 10 year strategy, which will be renewed in 2019.  We’ll publish the development plan on the website when it is ready.

Just to remind you, the aims of the IFM, which drive all of our work are to:

  • Promote, facilitate and influence the best possible standards of fisheries management across the British Isles.
  • Provide the technical and general knowledge necessary for competent fisheries management.
  • Be the organisation of choice for evidence-based advice and guidance for sustainable fisheries management.
  • Be the membership body of choice for fisheries managers, and to provide good value fisheries management services to members and customers of the Institute.

All this work needs more time and enthusiasm, not just from our current officers, but also from you, our members.  The Institute and its offer is only as strong as its membership and what you put in.  We are always seeking more people to help in the work of our numerous teams to do more for members, and to advance fisheries management.  If you’d like to get more involved, please do contact Paul, Iain or myself.  Also, if you have any feedback for the Institute, with what or how we can improve, do contact us.  I can be contacted at chairman@ifm.org.uk .

I’m really looking forward to the challenges ahead. Between us we can continue to do more for fish and fisheries for a richer and more diverse environment for us all to enjoy.

David Bunt


January 2018