AMERICAN fishing is booming... in stark contrast to the stagnant tackle trade and decline in angling participation in the UK.
The Angling Trust wants Britain to follow some of innovate tactics used by the USA angling community.
In a recent report by the American Sportfishing Association, the total value of fishing to the USA economy was said to be a stonking $125 billion with tackle sales alone worth nearly $50 billion.
And USA angling participation has risen by 8 per cent in the past two years.
In comparison in the UK there has been a 40 per cent reduction in the sale of rod licences in the past eight years.
And, according to the latest figures from the Angling Trades Association, in 2017 the industry had shrunk by 3 per cent from 2015.
Martin Salter, head of campaigns at the Angling Trust explained: “The America success story is based around massive investment into the sport funded by a tackle levy and fishing licences.
“The tackle levy was set up by the 1950 Dingell Johnson Act – unfortunately we didn’t have politicians as visionary as Senators Dingell and Johnson were some 68 years ago, although I doubt if their ground-breaking piece of legislation would even get past first base in today’s America”.
Following USA angling lead over here
Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd commented: “The Recreational Boating and Fishing Federation are a big driver around growth in US and there is a lot we can learn from them.
“The investment from rod licence revenues is vital for fisheries and angling and supports a wide range of positive initiatives. The licence also gives us much greater political influence.
“However, we are actively campaigning for government to provide match funding for the contribution made by anglers. Grant aid has been cut steadily over the past decade and this is unacceptable.
“The easing of austerity may well be over-stating the case, as there are a lot of demands on government funding (including £20 billion for the NHS) and the recent budget made no mention of fisheries or the environment, but we will continue to champion the case for investment in angling and fisheries.
“Given the shortage of funds, anglers and angling businesses which depend on angling for their revenues, will need to play their part by getting involved and supporting our work.
“The RBFF have a clear marketing strategy – recruit, retain, reactivate. We have proposed the exact same strategy to the Environment Agency in terms of digital outreach in our recent tender for the next four years of our delivery contract with them and it is a clear focus for us.
“The Angling Trust is investing membership funds alongside rod licence income into developing a digital platform and marketing resource for this reason. We would love to invest much more but we need more support from anglers to do so.
“In the US growth has also been heavily supported by Hispanic interest in angling and 45 per cent of new anglers are female.
“This has been achieved with dedicated outreach programmes – food for thought for the UK angling community.
“They have also invested heavily in restoring the natural environment and wild fish stocks and have designated marine fisheries for recreational, rather than commercial exploitation.
“We have used these examples to try and persuade the UK government to do the same as part of the Fisheries Bill for post-Brexit Britain.
“There are signs that they are listening, but we’d like them to go much further.
“If we are going to look at America as a shining example, is the angling community prepared to get behind the work we do, the plans we have and the investments we are already making to make this work?
“Everybody wants change, but nobody wants to change,” Mark concluded.
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