The Angling Trust, at its first meeting with the new Fisheries Minister George Eustice on Monday 8th December, urged him to implement conservation measures and to manage more of the UK’s inshore fish stocks for the benefit of recreational anglers, rather than just for commercial exploitation.
The Trust particularly stressed the need to protect juvenile and migratory fish in estuaries and other nursery areas from both legal and illegal netting and to stop commercial targeting of fish that are aggregating to spawn. These will be key elements of the Trust’s forthcoming ‘Give Fish a Chance’ campaign aimed at securing a better deal for sea anglers.
A recent Defra-funded report, Sea Angling 2012, demonstrated that sea angling has a £2 billion economic benefit for the economy, far greater than commercial fishing’s, but this is under threat due to a failure by governments for decades to protect inshore fisheries.
The Trust’s CEO Mark Lloyd and campaigns chief Martin Salter were accompanied by George Hollingbery MP (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group). They told the Minister that although Sea Angling 2012 showed that nearly 1 million people are still going sea fishing, 70% of them stated that they would go fishing more if fish stocks were improved.
They stressed that a lack of fish was the biggest barrier to the next generation taking up recreational sea angling. The Angling Trust has also issued a briefing along these lines to all MPs in advance of the Fishing Industry debate this week.
Angling’s representatives also raised with the Minister other issues affecting anglers including unlawful canoe access to rivers, bass conservation measures, the impact of cormorants and goosanders on fish stocks and the need to implement the Water Framework Directive. The Minister agreed to continue the practice of hosting an angling summit for a wide range of angling and fisheries organisations, in addition to regular meetings with the Angling Trust.
George Hollingbery, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group said: “Angling is really important to rural and coastal economies and the government needs to recognise this by giving recreational anglers a greater share of the fish stocks and by protecting juvenile and spawning fish from exploitation. Fish are far more valuable to the country as a target for rod and line anglers than in a trawler’s net.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said: “George Eustice was receptive to our concerns and seemed well informed already about the issues we raised. I am hopeful that we will be able to work closely with him and the other Defra Ministers in the future to guide policies for the benefit of all anglers.”
Martin Salter, National Campaigns Co-ordinator at the Angling Trust added; “Having commissioned the valuable Sea Angling 2012 report the government now needs to use its findings to ensure that recreational sea fishing still has a future. This means greater protection for estuaries and inshore waters and the creation of designated recreational only fisheries and species. These policies have been clearly demonstrated to work well in other countries around the world. We just need the imagination to make this a reality over here.”