The National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) came out on top of a challenging year  in 2007/08 in which “we have faced up to the threats and made some real progress with the opportunities.”

This was the key message from the federation’s chairman, Richard Ferré, at annual general meeting on July 19.

The financial year ended with a small loss of £2,800 on turnover of £182,347, in normal trading activities.

“Our reserves are adequate to cope with this loss,” he said, “but the board are keen to return the NFSA to a break even situation as soon as possible.”

The outcome had been a significant improvement on predictions following the sudden l oss in 2007 of £50,000 of Sport England funding which had been the major financial challenge of the year. 

The year’s major success was the government U–turn over licensing sea anglers.

The revenue loss from Sport England arose from its decision to take the funding away from  the NFSA and use it instead to help pay for the new Angling Development Board (ADB).

Mr. Ferré said that while no one doubted the benefits of such an organisation focussed on training and development, “the sudden withdrawal of some £50,000 of funding hit us very hard. “

After full consultation and backing of members, fees were increased to replace the shortfall.  Initial membership renewals exceeded expectations, particularly from individuals.

However, a number of clubs felt the increase excessive and were seeking alternatives for insurance.

“This is unfortunate, but understandable when viewed in simple finance terms,” Mr. Ferré said.

“However, the NFSA is about much more than insurance and we will be talking hard to these clubs to help them understand just what a complete job we do, and must continue to do, on their behalf.”

On the government’s licensing proposals, Mr. Ferré´said while there was some acceptance of the principle of licensing in a well managed fishstock situation, the current state of fishstocks, compounded by the reversal of the bass minimum landing size decision, “generated a real depth of ill-feeling.” 

The NFSA represented this to20the government and as a result the legislation which would have allowed licenses, was removed from the draft Marine Bill.  

The NFSA was continuing to carefully consider on behalf of its members possibly merging into a unified organisation (with the working title of Angling Unity) to represent all fresh and salt water anglers in England.

“The theoretical benefits in terms of membership numbers, strength of organisation, economies of scale and strength of its voice to government are significant, so we have given a cautious approval to the process,” Mr. Ferré said.

“However, we want to ensure that the detailed plans for such an organisation will provide equal and improved support for sea anglers before we give a final go-ahead. We are working hard alongside  the other members of the Unity project to complete these detailed plans. Meanwhile, we urge members not to delay renewing membership during this time.

The annual meeting voted to authorise the board to approve the merger providing it first passed a resolution that it was in the best interests of the members.

Mr. Ferré said that in the meantime “the benefits of NFSA membership will continue and the job we do representing sea anglers will also continue to be critical to the future of the sport.”