The European Commission has appointed the Angling Trust’s Mark Owen to its new Invasive Alien Species Working Group, to represent the interests of anglers throughout Europe via the European Anglers’ Alliance.

Mr Owen will be working to ensure co-ordination of the activities of the Commission and EU member states to support the implementation of the new EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species in a robust manner to ensure that angling interests are properly considered.

Angling in the UK has been blighted by a wide range of invasive alien species in recent years, including signal crayfish, floating pennywort and killer shrimps. All these species and many more have caused damage to fish stocks, impacted on the enjoyment of fishing and have cost millions of pounds of taxpayers money to manage.  The Angling Trust is already represented on the GB Invasive Non Native Species Secretariat working groups in the UK and has been delivering a partnership programme with the Environment Agency to monitor and manage these pests for the past three years.

Mark Owen, Head of Freshwater at the Angling Trust said: “This is very welcome recognition at the highest levels in the European Commission of the importance of angling, with an estimated 25 million anglers generating 20 billion Euros to the European economy.  Invasive alien species are a threat to all coarse, game and sea anglers and their sport and it is vitally important that our voice is heard during the implementation of such an important piece of legislation.  We fought hard in both Westminster and Brussels to get this new regulation introduced to protect fish and fishing for future generations.”

Jan Kappel, Secretary General of the European Anglers’ Alliance said: “The legislation is not as strong as we would have liked on the eradication of species, but we have made good progress.We will continue to push all European Member States to act very rapidly to control and prevent the spread of invasive alien species. Any hesitation increases the cost of eradication enormously, and often makes it impossible.”