Representatives from 6 European countries gathered in London over the past two days to discuss how to increase the numbers of young people going fishing, at a conference hosted by the Angling Trust on behalf of the European Anglers’ Alliance. 

Angling has been shown to be highly beneficial for the development of young people and provides opportunities for them to learn a wide range of skills.  It is also an excellent way for people of different ages to share an experience in the great outdoors, to encourage greater communication between the generations and more contact with nature for young people.

Delegates heard of best practice from throughout the European Union, including ways to reconnect children with nature, make projects inclusive and fun for all, attract and keep volunteer support, and help kids to create and share their own fishing stories through social media.  All the successful examples involved partnership working between a combination of schools, government, clubs and businesses.

On the second day, delegates visited a pioneering scheme in Ealing to provide access to fishing for young people from all backgrounds, part of the national charity Get Hooked on Fishing, which is a close partner of the Angling Trust.  They saw the positive impact that a professionally-managed facility, supported by licensed coaches, can have on young people.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust said: “Nature Deficit Disorder has recently been identified as a major issue for young people and angling provides a unique way of getting young people away from their couches and screens into the natural environment where they can discover the magical world that lies beneath the water surface.”

He added: “This conference was a fascinating insight into the work that is going on throughout Europe to help young people discover the joy of fishing for the first time, and to help them develop their skills so that they can fish responsibly and safely for the rest of their lives.  The Angling Trust was delighted to host this inaugural event on behalf of the European Anglers Alliance and delegates found it a really useful way of learning more about how their colleagues in other countries promote angling to the next generation.”