ANGLERS are asking for funding for the new National Angling Strategy launched last week to tackle the decline in fishing.
UK angling should be a winner with the National Angling Strategy, which was launched at Get Hooked On Fishing’s Northala Fields.
Amongst the great and good in attendance for the launch at the Northolt, West London centre, was Environment Agency chair Emma Boyd.
But some informed people in the UK angling scene fear without new funding from central Government, the decline of anglers will continue. This has been witnessed in many ways, notably in a rod licence sales decline of 40 per cent in eight years.
The Strategy is being co-ordinated by the EA alongside the Angling Trust, Angling Trades Association, Get Hooked On Fishing and the Canal And River Trust.
Emma Boyd said: “The Strategy aims to get more people out to experience angling – because we know that getting outdoors and experiencing nature is good for health and wellbeing.
“I’m really pleased that the EA is working with partners and anglers on this exciting vision for growing the sport and delivering the best possible angling experience in England.”
The strategy was developed by technology and research company Substance after widespread consultation with the angling community using feedback from the 2018 national angling survey.
Substance head or research Dr Adam Brown said: “There were 35,000 responses in all to the survey and 26,000 completed it in full.
“For 72 per cent angling was one of their main physical activities, for 70 per cent it helped to reduce stress, and 67 per cent had also been involved in some form of environmental work.
“But it was telling that 33 per cent of respondents had gone fishing less in the past year than they had done in the previous year mainly due to pressures of work and time.
“The survey highlighted the need to make more information available on where and how to fish, with 33 per cent knowing young people who were interested in giving fishing a go, and also the need to emphasise the mental health and physical fitness benefits of fishing.
“It also highlighted the need to promote greater diversity in fishing with 96 per cent of respondents being male.
“The USA showed the way forward on this with a focussed campaign leading to 45 per cent of new licence sales being by women.
““The economic and social benefits to rural and coastal communities were also apparent with a big crossover between sea and freshwater angling,” Adam added.
UK angling to follow USA lead?
The USA has seen angling participation rise by 8 per cent in the past two years after big investment with cash raised by a tackle tax.
Martin Salter, policy lead at the Angling Trust, said: “With the decline in rod licence sales and the age profile of regular anglers fast approaching the pension age, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where our problems lie.
“The ATA estimated that we need at least 30,000 new anglers each year just to stand still, such is the effect of the grim reaper.
“Most outdoor sports are suffering a downturn in numbers, with a 25 per cent decline in golf participation and a 50 per cent decline in cricket in the past 20 years, and there seems to be a pressure on youngsters to be doing other things.
“A very significant amount is already being done by the Trust and our partners at grassroots level to encourage take-up with family taster days and with training of angling coaches.
“The USA has shown the way in driving up the participation level in the sport but this was with a significant level of investment.
“Better co-ordination and focus of everyone’s efforts will help but unless more resources are put into it both by the Government and the private sector then there is a danger that this will be another document that mainly stays on the shelf,” Martin concluded.
6 objectives of National Angling Strategy
The National Angling Strategy (2019-2024) contains six overall aims as it aims to get UK angling back into a healthier position. These are:
- Develop awareness and knowledge of angling. A marketing campaign, backed by research, with new information on how and where to fish.
- Increase participation in angling. An increase in angling participation by 2024 and increases in females, young people and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities taking part.
- Develop social benefits through angling. An increase in people getting physically active through angling, delivery of angling for health programmes; and an angling volunteer programme.
- Develop sustainable places to fish. Involve anglers more in environmental improvement work and science, develop more local and accessible places for people to fish and develop more community waters.
- Increase angling’s economic impact. Deliver a trade-backed market development plan, new funding for developing the angling sector and tackle shop and angling tourism support.
- Understand angling data and evidence. Develop an angling research programme to inform future actions, stakeholders and angling commerce interests, and to evaluate the strategy’s success.
Trade help to boost UK angling numbers
The Angling Trades Association is looking at how it can make its own contribution to encourage UK angling participation.
New ATA chief executive John Loftus explained: “It is obviously in the interests of us all to reverse the decline in angling participation and recruit new people into the sport as well as encourage back those who have lapsed.
“As a result we have organised our own conference in August called Keep Britain Fishing, for reps from a broad cross section of the industry including manufacturers, retailers and others interested in the sport.
“Places are restricted to 50 due to the size of the venue which is at a hotel near Birmingham Airport.
“The day is being facilitated by Catherine Pybus who is an award-winning copywriter and marketing expert with vast advertising experience across many industries including vehicles and chemicals.”
John added: “We hope the outcome will contribute to giving angling a higher profile in the leisure sector, and getting more people out on the bank, the shore and on boats more often.
“The Government should, however, be doing more to support the sport given how much it contributes in terms of tax returns to the exchequer.
“Tens of millions is collected in VAT on tackle and bait every year alone, with other less obvious taxes like on fuel for travel and purchase of boats for fishing, and all that is really put back in nowadays is licence money,” John concluded.
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