Despite recent assurances from the Scottish Executive that Scotland’s Recreational Sea Anglers are regarded as important stakeholders in the management of the nations’ marine resources, and personal assurances to SACN by Ross Finnie that “there is no reason why we shouldn’t be included” in the new Advisory Group on Marine and Coastal Strategy, SACN Scotland are angered to be finally told “We recognise that some other interests would have liked to have been directly involved in the Group, but it has not been practical to respond positively to every request for membership.”

 

Although no figures are available for Scotland, Recreational Sea Angling in England and Wales has been shown to have some 2 million participants, and a value to the economy exceeding £1billion.

 

As well as directly providing jobs in Scotland, and health and social benefits to Scotland’s anglers, the sector is also of great importance to the nation’s tourism industry, with many visitors attracted from overseas to fish in the saltwater lochs in surroundings and for species unavailable elsewhere in Europe, particularly at times when conditions are not right for visitors to be guided on Scotland’s world famous salmon and trout waters.

 

Hit by declining commercial sea fish species, many coastal communities are looking towards the development potential of Scotland’s Recreational Sea Angling sector to fill the gaps, providing jobs for boat owners, angling guides and the sale of bait, clothing and tackle, as well as bringing much needed income to Scotland’s Bed and Breakfast and Hotels, particularly outside of the main tourist season.

 

Many of the species that Recreational Sea Anglers target are of no or little interest to the commercial catching sector, and likewise those species of value to the catching sector (especially shellfish, crustaceans and nephrops, along with many fin fish), are not targeted by anglers, so the two sectors are able to complement their particular contributions to the Scottish economy.

 

However, to realise the full development sector of the Recreational Sea Angling sector, the Scottish Executive needs to understand the specific needs of the sector, including the fishery management options which will add value to the ‘angling experience’, delighting anglers and attracting visitors to Scotland’s coasts.

 

Without representation on influential bodies by organisations such as SACN and the Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers, it will be impossible for Scotland to realise value from one of it’s greatest natural resources, a healthy marine environment, enjoyed in a non-damaging way by Recreational Sea Anglers prepared to spend money funding livelihoods to pursue their sport.

 

Despite this rebuff, SACN will continue to work with this new body, and other organisations, to promote the interests of Scotland’s many Recreational Sea Anglers, and the interests of anglers from outside Scotland who choose to spend their money here.

 

But it condemns the short-sightedness of this administration, and calls upon anglers everywhere to express their displeasure at this snubbing of their interests, and the interests of all of the many Scottish people whose livelihoods depend upon servicing the Recreational Sea Angling Sector in Scotland. 

 

Ian Burrett, the SACN Regional Co-ordinator for Scotland, said “It’s time for Scotland’s Sea Anglers to start taking action, if the current administration won’t listen to us, there are others who will.  Anglers should put pen to paper and let them know just how dissatisfied we are becoming.” 

 

 

Ian Burret

SACN Regional Co-ordinator for Scotland

 

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