The initiative, to be known as Give Fish A Chance, will provide common sense advice on how anglers can contribute to conservation through a series of voluntary measures as well as promoting best practice in all aspects of sea angling.
As a first step the coalition is keen to promote the work that has already been done in Scotland by The Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network and produce a common UK GFAC size table so that anglers can be confident what size each species must be to have had the opportunity to have bred at least once.
Give Fish A Chance will also include carrying out research projects, campaigning for the restoration of fish stocks and their management for the benefit of all.
Give Fish A Chance is being supported by the Scottish and Welsh Federations of Sea Anglers, the Angling Trust, and the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN) who conceived the policy in 2009.
Support for GFAC is open to all clubs, associations, federations and other organisations; several representative bodies from around the UK have already expressed an in joining.
David Mitchell, Marine Campaigns Manager at the Angling Trust said, “We know anglers care passionately about the conservation of fish stocks and practice their own codes of conservation whilst also enjoying catching fish for the table. Give Fish A Chance is a great opportunity for the sea angling communities in the UK to come together on common issues that affect us all and provide a clear and common sense message that sea anglers can support”.
Steve Bastiman, Conservation Officer of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, said, “Many anglers, whilst enjoying their sport and occasionally taking a fish for the table, are keen to do what they can to ensure the minimal impact to the environment and to the fish themselves – The GFAC size is a simple measure to help ensure the viability of fish stocks.”
Roger Cook, Conservation Officer for the Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers, said, “WFSA has a good record in conservation of individual specimen and record fish, and anglers can claim Welsh Records without having to kill fish. In match fishing, too, fish survival is emphasised. WFSA is pleased to support Give Fish a Chance. These carefully worked out sizes will help all anglers contribute to conserving fish stocks.”