SATURDAYS see the good people at The Angling Trust, the single organisation to represent all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in this country, take over our blog.
Angling Trust chief executive, Mark Lloyd brings you this week’s blog.
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WE’RE READY TO TACKLE 2013 – JOIN OUR BATTLES!
HAPPY New Year to everyone reading this. I hope you enjoyed Christmas with family and friends and that you managed to get out on the bank, beach or boat at some point between the mince pies.
I’ve really enjoyed taking some time off after a very hectic end to 2012, but sadly I had to cancel two planned fishing trips over Christmas because the rivers were muddy torrents carrying large trees downstream at speed.
As I’m meant to be on holiday, I’ll keep this brief, but I thought I’d mention three priority issues we’re going to be working on in 2013 in this week’s blog. As it happens, they all start with the letter ‘C’…
We’ve put tens of thousands of pounds into our campaign to get them on the general shooting licence over the past two years so that angling clubs and fisheries can protect their livelihoods from predation by these birds.
We’ve taken the Minister and his officials to see the problem first hand, written dossiers of evidence and printed and distributed 110,000 postcards to supporters to send to their MPs. Fingers crossed for a result in the New Year.
Canoes: I think this year will see the Angling Trust do battle with the British Canoe Union about illegal paddling on our rivers.
Anglers are getting increasingly fed up with canoeists paddling wherever and whenever they like without paying a penny or any attention to the concerns of anglers who are paying a licence and a permit and looking after the rivers.
The BCU has been encouraging canoeists to trespass by casting doubt about the law of the land which is very clear: there is no right of navigation on rivers (with a few exceptions on their lower reaches).
Hopefully we can get the canoeists to see sense and to realise that their best bet of getting more access is to come to voluntary agreements with the anglers and river owners to paddle at certain times of the year and heights of water to avoid conflict with anglers and damage to fish.
Sure, some stocks are doing a little better in recent years, but the overall picture is of a catastrophic decline in fish numbers.
We’re going to be campaigning hard this year on protecting juvenile sea fish from commercial netting until they have at least had the chance to spawn.
This means changing fishing practices to avoid catching small fish and keeping all nets out of nursery areas and estuaries which are vital for so many fish species.
We’re also looking into the potential for using the law as part of our campaigns.
As well as these priority campaigns, we’ll be doing the usual work protecting our coarse and game fish from damaging hydropower, battling to stop over-abstraction, protecting fisheries that are under threat from angling bans and generally standing up for anglers and the angling industry as a whole.
Fish Legal, which acts as our legal arm in England, will be taking legal action against polluters and others who damage its members’ rivers and lakes and I hope that the European Courts of Justice will support our case to get water companies to come clean about what they are putting into our rivers and coastal waters.
We’ll be implementing our National Angling Strategy to get more people of all ages going fishing and as usual we’ll be running hundreds of fishing matches and supporting our England teams as they compete around the world.
It’s going to be yet another very busy year, but I’m confident that the Angling Trust and Fish Legal will be doing more for anglers than any organisation has done for generations and probably in the history of angling in this country.
Our time has come and those of us with a few years’ fishing left in our lives will really benefit from better fish stocks, more access to fishing and greater recognition of our sport because we now have a single representative organisation for all anglers that means business.
All this work depends on members and donors to make it happen. If you’re not a member, now’s the time to back us so that we can protect and improve your fishing. It only takes 5 minutes at www.anglingtrust.net or by phoning 0844 7700616 during office hours (press 1 for membership).
With all best wishes for a fishy 2013.