Healthier fisheries means healthier local communities and economies was the message from the Environment Agency at the launch of ‘A better environment, healthier fisheries: better fisheries for our nations’.

“Fisheries is about more than just fishing and our work is a key influence on local economies throughout England and Wales,” Dafydd Evans, Head of Fisheries, said today.

“Angling creates jobs and prosperity, extends visitor seasons and creates more business for restaurants, pubs, shops and hotels.

“Our figures show that nearly four million people went angling last year leading to 20,000 jobs and total spending of a huge £3 billion annually on the sport – one project alone in Wales generated almost £30 million through angling tourism,” Dafydd Evans said.

The Environment Agency’s Fishing in Wales Project resulted in:

Over 400km of improved rivers as a result of river habitat improvements and building fish passes.

£2 million investment creating 1000 jobs in angling clubs, tackle shops, hotels and restaurants.

£27million generated in one year by angling tourists and their families.

Over 450 people attending sustainable fishery management training courses, helping to deliver 86 partnership projects with angling clubs and fishery owners, improving fishing facilities for all.

Releasing the strategy today the Environment Agency, which is responsible for fisheries in England and Wales, revealed how it will adapt to ensure the survival of our fragile natural fisheries environment. It is success like that shown by the Fishing in Wales project which the Environment Agency hopes to repeat.

Key steps to create a better fisheries environment by 2011 include:

Increasing the number of fish in our rivers – only 21 rivers met salmon conservation targets in 1999.

Providing more chances for more people to fish with double the amount of active anglers from black, minority and ethnic background.

Sustainable fisheries boosting the local economy, with greater investment in fisheries.

“The presence of fish and angling demonstrates a healthy environment – our strategy outlines how we will meet new challenges such as climate change and invasive species while increasing tourism, encouraging greater participation in fishing and continuing to create a better quality of life for local communities,” Dafydd Evans said.

“Our work to bring fishing to people through angling participation projects have paid off for local communities. One such scheme in Rowheath Park, Birmingham was the award winning Get Hooked on Fishing project. Working together with the Bournville Village Trust this innovative and unique programme proved successful in tackling youth crime, antisocial behaviour, school truancy and educational underachievement – 98% of participants did not re-offend. Over 250 children took part in 2005 and the three-year-old scheme won the Big Lottery People’s Choice Award.

Better environment, healthier fisheries outlines how we will take our work further. We are determined to create a better, healthier environment for fisheries and for people,” Dafydd Evans said.