AFTER several years of disappointing results the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) fished its way out of debt in 2004-2005 finishing with a working balance of £1,758. 

Chairman Ted Tuckerman said it was one of the year’s “positive achievements” together with recognition by the government and a House of Commons select committee of MPs that recreational sea anglers should be equal stakeholders in fisheries management, and that the NFSA was the “leading organisation speaking on their behalf.”

Gerard Twigger, the NFSA treasurer, said improved finances had been achieved by reducing the cost base, adjustments in banking and investments and particularly by income from organised events. 

But  he warned:  “We cannot rely on that source to bail us out continually.  More income can only come from more members.”

Mr. Tuckerman told the annual meeting (on May 21) that membership brought in only 33 per cent of income far lower than it should be for a national organisation, while the
workload escalated almost daily.  Additional staff could be brought in if membership increased.

“Only then will we be able to do what anglers expect.  Currently the few are paying for the many.  It is vital that divisions and clubs make recruiting their top priority.   Go out and enrol a new member, don’t leave it to the other member, he is leaving it to you.”

Richard Ferré chairman of the federaion’s conservation group said a major success in the campaign for “more and bigger” fish to ensure the future of recreational sea angling, was that Defra had agreed to form an inshore group to concentrate on the needs of anglers.

Though government now recognised the economic and social importance of sea angling, intensive lobbying for increased involvement in the future of fisheries generally must be maintained to ensure words were translated into action.

“This year we will use our presence on sea fisheries committees to encourage development of recreational angling, continue to pressure Defra and review with scientists what actions will best ensure there are more and bigger fish,” Mr. Ferré said.

A new initiative would encourage responsible handling of fish to achieve high levels of successful catch and release.  The NFSA would continue to fully support the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society (BASS) in promoting its exemplary bass management plan

England’s angling teams had successes in 2004 winning eight gold, three silver and two bronze medals in international and home nation’s competitions, John Amery, the NFSA competitions organiser, told the meeting.

He emphasised that members’ subscriptions did not fund the teams. A ring-fenced Sports England grant (£22,000 in 2004) partly funded them but the team members themselves made a substantial contribution.

“At the World Clubs’ Championship in Portugal in April, where we won a bronze medal, the total cost per team member was £502,” Mr. Amery said.

“As well as completing 11 international championships the NFSA hosted the 2004 World Shore Championships at Weymouth, Dorset, and I believe that our competence in doing so is well respected by the other competing nations,” he added

David Rowe, the federation’s development officer, said that with the National Federation of Anglers and Salmon & Trout Association, the NFSA was continuing to develop coaching classes and would hold two at its head office at Buckfastleigh, Devon this year.