Organisations promoting sea and freshwater angling in Britain are considering a merger to increase their influence on government, expand the two sports and eliminate administrative duplication.

The lead body for English sea angling, the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA), will shortly sign a letter of intent  to participate in the early stages of the plan (with the working title of Angling Unity) following a unanimous vote in favour of doing so by its board and regional representatives at the weekend (February 16).

Richard Ferré, chairman of the NFSA, said the letter of intent would be non- binding indicating only a desire for Angling Unity to succeed. 

“Becoming a full member (there are none yet) would be a significant move and our membership would be fully consulted.  Such a step would only be taken if there was overwhelming approval for it at an annual general meeting.”

The letter, however, does enable sea angling to participate fully in the process of finalising how a new joint body might function.  It is anticipated it would not be ready to begin operating before 2009.

“Meanwhile it is business as usual” Mr. Ferré said.  “Our activities continue unchanged and we ask our members to continue to support us.” 

The expectation was that Angling Unity would ultimately be a strong, well funded professional organisation with a powerful voice for British angling interests in Europe and at national and local level in the UK, and offer a wide range of improved membership benefits.

“We would retain our dedicated focus on sea angling, including the dialogue with the government over saving coastal fishstocks, organising England’s international and national championship teams this year and in the future, and our existing development, education and training programmes,” Mr. Ferré said.

The project was started by the Fisheries and Conservation Trust (FACT) an umbrella organisation of which the NFSA was a founding member in 2004.

The freshwater fishing organisations involved in the Unity plan are the Angling Conservation Association (ACA), the National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives (NAFAC), the National Federation of Anglers (NFA) and the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA).

It is anticipated that other specialist angling groups would be eligible to join the new body.