A PLAN make the estuaries of the rivers Stour and Orwell on the Essex and Suffolk borders a recreational sea angling fishery to bring new business to the area, has been rejected by one of two local committees which manages the waters, despite strong support from anglers.


The proposal is to develop some eight miles of either estuary upstream from Harwich, for recreational angling rather than commercial fishing as at present.

 It has taken local anglers 18 months to prepare the plan.


When the Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee asked fishing organisations and individuals in East Anglia what they thought of the plan, they were enthusiastic. Of 120 responses it received only 31 opposed it.  The other 89 all supported some measure of change.


But after a short discussion at its headquarters in King’s Lynn on January 26 the committee voted down the proposal by 11 notes to nil, with one abstention.  There are no sea anglers on the committee.


The anglers’ plan will now be considered by the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee, which has jurisdiction over half the Stour estuary, on February 14.


Tom Pinborough, a prominent local angler and a member of the conservation group of the National Federation of Sea Anglers, led the campaign for change with two others, Steve Coppolo and Bob Cox. 


Before it rejected the idea Mr. Pinborough told the joint fisheries committee in King’s Lynn that commercial interest in the area was minimal, while recreational anglers used it extensively.  There was, he said, a large growth potential for angling which would  benefit local economies far more than the current low level of commercial fishing.


“I am sure the Kent and Essex committee will look in detail at the proposal and  the overwhelming support there is to develop recreational fishing on these estuaries,”  Mr. Pinborough said.


“The extent of the commercial fishing there is being exaggerated.  The Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee dramatically changed its position from last October when we received a very positive initial response to our proposal.”


Richard Ferré, chairman of the conservation group of the National Federation of Sea Anglers, said: “We feel it is a grossly unfair decision and falls far short of delivering the best value to the local economy.  It protects a small commercial interest and ignores a much larger opportunity for recreational sea angling to benefit the area.”


Sea anglers are urgently seeking greater representation on sea fisheries committees such as the Eastern one, so that decisions in future are made with the interests of recreational anglers in mind as well as those of  the commercial sector.


They are supported by Ben Bradshaw, the fisheries minister, who in December told parliament:  “The importance of angling, and sea angling in particular, has not always been recognised in the past and I want to give anglers a greater say in how we manage our fisheries.”


The economic importance of recreational sea angling has been underlined in two recent government reports stating there are a million sea anglers in the UK spending £1 billion a year on their sport.


A spokesman for the National Federation of Sea Anglers said its long-term aim was to change the way UK inshore fisheries are managed.