One of the 12 sea fisheries committees in England and Wales has formally broken a 100-year-old tradition of managing inshore waters only for commercial fishing.  It will now try to meet the needs of present-day anglers as well as the commercial fishermen.


The Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee has set up a recreational sea angling subcommittee, reflecting the growing value of the sport to coastal economies.  Only one member voted against it.


The committee manages fisheries for six miles out from the coasts of north Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and south Lincolnshire, and enforces protection legislation.


Two prominent local anglers, Tom Pinborough of Maldon and and Steve Coppolo of Colchester, led an 18-month campaign supported by the National Federation of Sea Anglers, to convince the committee it should act for their prospering sector just as much as it did for commercial fishing.


They were nominated to join the committee by Defra last year.


Matthew Manders, the committee’s chief fisheries officer at King’s Lynn told the full committee that it was “highly likely there would be many more [recreational angling] issues to deal with in the future.”  The subcommittee would ensure the interests of recreational and commercial fishing and the environment were explored “more fully” than in the past.


Sea angling was, he said, increasingly recognised by the government’s environment department (Defra) which is planning a strategy for it in the new Marine Bill.   He believed the success of that strategy “will be dependent on how it is implemented at a local level.”


The new subcommittee will comprise five councillors from local authorities which fund the committee, Mr. Pinborough and Mr. Coppolo for angling two representatives of two commercial fishing and one environmental representative.


Mr. Pinborough said: “This will enable hundreds of anglers in eastern England and the many businesses which serve them, to get involved with the sea fisheries committee. Their taxes help to pay for it; it is their committee.   I hope they will talk to their county councillors and to Steve Coppolo and myself about ways to improve and expand our sea angling. “