Once again the voice of angling was heard at the annual party political conferences where the value of our sport was endorsed by politicians from right across the political spectrum thanks to strong lobbying by the Angling Trust.
In partnership with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Angling Trust representatives have attended the Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative conferences over the last three weeks to speak about the importance of angling at a series of specially organised Rural Receptions attended by ministers and shadow ministers, MPs, councillors and party delegates.
First up was the Lib Dem gathering in Brighton where Baroness Cathy Bakewell, the Liberal’s Lords spokesperson on environment, food and rural affairs, said: “I fully appreciate the contribution made by shooting and fishing to rural and coastal life. I have spent many enjoyable hours sitting on river banks with my husband while he fishes and I am well versed in its benefits to the economy and the environment.”
In response David Mitchell, the Angling Trust’s Head of Marine, said: “Around two million people go fishing in the UK each year and we are a nation of anglers and shooters. Our role in protecting the environment and supporting rural and coastal economies is often overlooked by the general public. But millions of anglers and shooters invest hundreds of millions of pounds protecting an environment that the general public also enjoy at the same time as supporting tens of thousands of jobs and small businesses often in communities often suffering from high levels of deprivation.”
For Labour, who met this year in Liverpool, Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman MP applauded the work of both organisations saying: “Both BASC and the Angling Trust carry out vital conservation work. Sustainability has to be at the heart of everything we do. We want people to be able to continue to enjoy shooting and angling while promoting conservation, biodiversity and protecting our environment. I’ll keep working with BASC and the Angling Trust to ensure that this sustainability and conservation of British wildlife is high on the policy agenda at Westminster.”
A similar message was delivered to the Conservative Conference by government minister Mark Spencer.
Addressing the Conservative audience Liverpool Angling Trust Campaigns Chief, and former MP Martin Salter said: “Although the economic benefits of recreational fishing are massive fishing is about much more than catching fish or spending our spare cash. It has huge benefits for individuals and communities in terms of our health and well-being, our understanding of both the countryside and the environment and even in some cases in diverting kids at risk away from anti-social behaviour, drugs and crime.
We are extremely fortunate at the Angling Trust to have a great working relationship with MPs of all parties on the All Party Angling Group and it’s important to us to have parliamentarians who know and understand the issues that affect our sport and who are happy to see them raised in Westminster and with ministers.”