We've proud to continue a long tradition of wildfowling in Chichester Harbour
Chichester Harbour is a large estuary with extensive mudflats, and wildfowling has been recorded in the area for at least 350 years. By 1892 there were fifteen punts being used within the harbour area by professional wildfowlers. These days, whilst there may no longer be professional wildfowlers and punts have almost disappeared from the scene, wild fowling continues as a challenging leisure pursuit managed by the CWA which was formed in 1956. Since then the Association has taken a leading role in conservation as well as the management of this natural, wild place that is constantly under pressure from surrounding conurbations.
Chichester Wildfowlers was founded in 1956, like many others at the time, as a response to the Protection of Birds act 1954 and the realisation of a growing need to protect the interests of sportsmen who wished to continue practicing the art of wild fowling. Initially it was an offshoot of Pagham Wildfowlers that met at the Bulls Head in Fishbourne but it soon grew in size to become one of the most significant south coast Wildfowling organisations with close links to WABGI, the national wildfowl’s association (Now BASC).
Formalisation And Coming Of Age
In 1971 the Harbour Conservancy was formed by an act of parliament to manage Chichester Harbour and it’s unique surroundings. From the beginning wildfowlers, along with fishermen, have been an active part of this management with a permanent place on the committee which continues to this day. During this decade the Conservancy formalised many aspects of the use of the harbour and as part of this access for the Chichester Wildfowler’s Association to shoot in the harbour was confirmed in the form of leases granted for each of the shooting areas that are now used.
A Big Contribution To Conservation
In the 1980’s many conservation projects were initiated ranging from major habitat development to more mundane but valuable activities such as path restoration. In recognition of the contribution the association had made to conservation efforts over many projects it was presented with many prestigious awards. This was only the start, since then other awards have been won, here are a selection
- West Sussex Conservation Award
- Laurent Perrier Award (Twice!)
- Daily Telegraph Conservation Award
- Stanley Duncan Award (The BASC Award, won twice)
Growth And An Expansion Of Activities
By the 1990’s the Association had grown substantially both by merging with smaller wildfowling groups and by attracting new members. With a membership that topped 150 the Association had become a strong, highly active organisation with social events as well as shooting activities. An example of this would be the clay shoots that were arranged on a regular basis, initially at Lavant and later at West Dean
Looking To The Future With The First Land Acquisition
In order to secure the ability to shoot into the future in a world of declining habitats and increasing pressure the Association made it’s first acquisition. This was an area of shooting marsh to the east of Hayling Island which is now secure as a shooting area for members into perpetuity. Since then, in partnership with Kent Wildfowlers Association, CWA has acquired it’s first inland shoot which is an area of wetland on the Kent/Sussex border north of Rye, which is attractive to both duck and Geese. This area is managed by both clubs acting in partnership to provide an attractive habitat with permanent hides that members can use in a suitably controlled manner.
Merger And Consolidation
In 2010 the Emsworth Wildfowler’s merged with Chichester Wildfowler’s in order to offer more to members and share the organisational efforts needed. The principle benefit was an increase in the areas available to both sets members by the addition of the areas around Emsworth to the established collection of Chichester areas elsewhere in the harbour. Since then The Association has changed it’s name and identity to reflect the new, enlarged and unified organisation.
The Future Is Bright…
Wildfowling is highly popular in shooting circles resulting in a steady stream of new, probationary members each year both local and from further afield. This, together with long term shooting rights, makes a very positive outlook for the CWA. In order to balance the steadily increasing pressures on wildfowling and an increasing membership, additional shooting opportunities are being actively sought, by acquisition if necessary.