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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WHAT THE ANGLING TRUST HAVE BEEN DOING OVER THE PAST YEAR
TOMORROW, or today by the time you read this, the Angling Trust and Fish Legal are holding their AGMs near Stafford.
It’s my job to report back to our members at the meeting a summary of what the two organisations I run have done in the past year. Our work is funded by membership subscriptions, and is carried out in the name of our members, so it’s right and proper that our members get to hear from me what we have been up to.
In the first couple of years after the Angling Trust was formed, I have to be honest, I found it difficult to report on any major achievements. There were plenty of plans, and lots of things in progress, but nothing that I could point to and say: “we did that”. This year, as I sit here working on my presentation, I’m struggling to fit everything in to the time I have for my presentation, and there are several big things that we can look back at, knowing they wouldn’t have happened unless our organisation had been there to stand up for fish and fishing.
There’s the national survey we carried out last year, that involved 29,000 anglers and nearly 1,000 organisations, and which provided the foundations for our national angling strategy – Fishing For Life – which has been supported by the government. This has led to £1m of funding from Sport England and the Environment Agency being released to support programmes to get more people going coarse, game and sea fishing, more often. This sum looks set to increase as we build our reputation as an organisation that delivers.
Then there’s the voluntary bailiff service, which started as a pilot project with the Environment Agency in the South East and has since grown, into a permanent feature of the national approach to rod licence and bye-law enforcement. It is a concept that many were dubious about at first, but most now see as a great initiative that is paying dividends. We’ve linked it up with the expanded Building Bridges programme as well, to help educate Eastern European anglers about the law.
On the campaigning front, there’s our recent victory in getting the Severn Barrage proposals, which would have damaged sea fish stocks and migratory fisheries throughout the South West and South Wales, kicked into touch. The Angling Trust is now spoken about by government and the media in the same breath as the RSPB, the National Trust and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Then there’s the fact that we got the government to review the licensing of controls on cormorants and goosanders. We have spent hundreds of hours, and tens of thousands of pounds campaigning on this issue, and we expect an announcement in the next few weeks from the Minister. More than 85,000 sightings have been recorded at www.cormorantwatch.org ; this figure has been very helpful to us, along with other evidence gathered from our membership.
We’ve created eight Regional Freshwater Forums throughout the country, where anglers can meet up to find out what the Angling Trust and Fish Legal have been doing for them and to discuss issues affecting fish and fishing in their region, directly with Angling Trust staff and with the EA’s fisheries officers. These have been really well-attended, with more than 50 people turning up to many of the meetings.
For sea anglers, we’ve secured a review of the Bass Minimum Landing Size, and have recently launched our Give Fish a Chance campaign that will press for juvenile and spawning fish to be protected from commercial exploitation, to help fish stocks recover. We helped organise the Bexhill Sea Angling Festival that attracted more than 10,000 visitors, and we’re planning many similar events.
On the competitions front, we’ve continued to organise hundreds of national and international matches and have recently launched Riverfest, which is a brilliant idea to get more people out fishing on the rivers, with a chance of winning at least £10,000 in the process. We’re also going to start a National Fishing League that will award points to anglers fishing in matches that are registered with the Angling Trust and hopefully give a boost to small clubs and fisheries in the process.
Fish Legal, which acts as the Angling Trust’s legal arm, has recently passed the 1,000 member club mark, up from 750 clubs in 2009 when it changed its name from the ACA. Since then, the legal team has worked closely with the Trust to settle a judicial review with the government that led to nearly £100 million of new funding being allocated to improve our rivers. They went on to win a historic injunction to stop a hydropower development at Sawley weir on the Trent that would have decimated the weir pool fishing of one of our member clubs. This has sent shockwaves through the hydropower industry and will make developers and investors think twice.
Fish Legal has also taken its 5 year legal battle – to make Water Companies accountable to the public for what they put into (and take out of) our watercourses – to the European Courts. On top of all of this, the lawyers have somehow found time to win hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation for members whose waters have been polluted or damaged in other ways.
All this work, and much more besides, is only possible because of the support of our members. We desperately need more funding to do far more in the future for the benefit of all anglers. If you’re not already a member, please join today at www.anglingtrust.net for the good of the sport we all love.
To join the Angling Trust call 0844 7700616 or go to www.anglingtrust.net
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