The Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Angling has condemned as “malicious and pathetic” the attempted sabotage by animal rights activists of the eighth annual children’s angling day at Passies Ponds fishery in West Sussex.

 The event, organised annually by farmer and fisheries owner Trevor Passmore, in conjunction with the local council’s sports development officer and the Environment Agency, introduces complete beginners to the sport. Today’s event brought out 100 children, none of who had ever fished before and whose ages ranged from 8-16, to learn about angling and to “have a go”.

Saboteurs, who had advertised the event on their “Keep on Fighting” website as an “urgent action alert” spent an hour and a half at Mr Passmore’s fishery, shouting, letting off sirens, throwing stones in the water and photographing the children taking part until the Police arrived to escort them off the property.

 Campaign for Angling Director Charles Jardine commented: “That these people are now out “sabbing” children is both malicious and pathetic and that the children involved went on to have a great day shows who possesses the greater maturity. The kids who turned out today had never fished before and could have been put off for life but for Mr Passmore’s handling of the situation. Anglers everywhere should be aware that this has happened and must be under no illusions that these “sabs” will come after the angling community just as readily as they will the hunting and shooting community. This is not about animal welfare, but about hatred, and we must guard against it.

 “It is vital that we all continue, despite episodes like this one, to bring new people into the sport and foster their enthusiasm for angling – I am glad no one has been put off by the actions of these idiots and am even more delighted that, thanks to this event today, several new anglers can now enjoy this wonderful sport”.