Following a number of reports in the national press that changes to the governance structure of the RSPCA could see the animal welfare charity fall under the influence of a ‘hardline anti angling faction’, the Angling Trust has secured a clear commitment from the charity that the rumours are ‘totally baseless’ and that the charity ‘has no plans to campaign for a ban on angling‘.

Angling Trust Policy Chief, Martin Salter, wrote last week to RSPCA Chief Executive Chris Sherwood to seek clarification saying: “The Angling Trust, our sister organisation Fish Legal, and angling clubs throughout the country work hard to protect and improve the freshwater and aquatic environment across the United Kingdom. Without a healthy environment wildlife will suffer and die – something on which all our members would surely agree.

(And) ..far from launching attacks on anglers and angling we would hope those who care for the future of our wildlife would want to work with us and other conservation bodies on countering the myriad threats caused by pollution, over exploitation, abstraction and habitat destruction.
It would be good hear confirmation from you directly that the RSPCA does not intend to seek to ban angling and to criminalise up to two million people who currently enjoy this healthy pastime.”

In reply the RSPCA boss wrote: “Many thanks for your letter regarding the articles in the Telegraph and Times last weekend. I am sorry that these inaccurate stories have caused problems for you and your members. May I take this opportunity to reassure you, and your members, that the RSPCA has no plans to campaign for a ban on angling.”

He went on to endorse the Angling Trust’s ‘Take Five’ anti litter campaign as an example of good practice with benefits to animal welfare.

On the changes to the RSPCA Council Mr Sherwood said: “These changes are designed to modernise the charity’s governance, bringing us in line with other large national charities, as shown by the recent appointment of three new co-opted trustees with diverse experience and skills from the business, public and charity sector. There will also be a smaller board, with the time trustees can serve limited to nine years, which will be applied retrospectively.”

Commenting on the RSPCA response Martin Salter added: “We are pleased to have secured such a clear commitment from the RSPCA that anglers and angling are not in their sights. However, there are animal rights extremists out there who would like nothing better than to stop us fishing for pleasure and the Angling Trust will always be vigilant in defending anglers right to fish and promoting all the good we do for the environment upon which our sport depends.”