SEA anglers whose activities now contribute £1 billion a year to Britain’s coastal economies need to have a say in Government decisions on managing fish stocks, parliament was told this week.

During the annual fisheries debate, Bob Blizzard the Labour MP for Lowestoft, said that politicians should “give some thought to how we manage the stocks immediately around our coasts so that sea angling is encouraged and can continue to make that important contribution.”

Andrew George, the Liberal Democrat fisheries spokesman and MP for St. Ives, said scientists and commercial fishermen tended “to lock horns most on what is best overall for fisheries management” but recreational sea anglers also needed to be involved.

Sea anglers, he said, had been the first to highlight the by-catch problem and the detrimental effect of trawling on bass which normally attracted visiting anglers to the west of England.

The three-hour debate during which the fisheries minister and MP for Exeter, Ben Bradshaw, acknowledged the importance of sea angling, was dominated by concerns over the future of the commercial industry. 

Afterwards Ted Tuckerman, chairman of the National Federation of Sea Anglers, said many more members of parliament, especially those with coastal constituencies, were beginning to understand how recreational sea angling was being threatened by indiscriminate commercial overfishing of inshore waters.

This reflected the federation’s lobbying to convince the government that development of sea angling must be encouraged and that the best way was to protect small fish so that they were not caught but allowed to grow, to spawn and to regenerate.

“The more anglers who fish off beaches, harbours, piers and from boats who join our federation, the louder we can make their voice for sea angling heard in Whitehall,” he said.