The Angling Trust intends to work with the Environment Agency to put in place new arrangements for anglers, angling clubs, fisheries and consultatives to have a say in the management of fisheries and angling, following the Government’s decision yesterday to axe the Agency’s statutory advisory committees.
The Government announced that it is to cut the Environmental Protection Advisory Committees (EPAC) and Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committees (FERAC) as part of a wide-ranging reduction in arms-length bodies. It has also called for statutory agencies to become more customer-focused and accountable.
The Trust, which is the representative body for all disciplines of angling, will be meeting with senior Environment Agency staff in the coming weeks to work up a new system for anglers to have their say in fisheries and angling management and policy – and to move delivery of a range of activities out of the EA and into the voluntary sector.
The Trust has nearly 1,500 angling clubs, riparian owners, consultatives and river associations in membership, and is already working to establish a national network of voluntary organisations representing each catchment in the country. It has set up four regional forums to provide a focus for discussion about regional issues affecting fisheries. The inaugural meeting in the North West was attended by more than 50 Angling Trust members.
The news that the statutory committees are to be cut makes it even more important that these forums are established without delay. The Trust currently relies on volunteers to chair and administer these groups and is calling for volunteers to help establish forums in the South East, South and North East regions. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the Angling Trust office as soon as possible.
At present these Forums are based around the Environment Agency’s regions, but the Trust understands that the Agency will soon be restructuring its administration around river catchments and the regional forums will follow suit. The Trust has recently submitted, in partnership with several fisheries charities, proposals to Government for the reform of fisheries management which included much greater delivery by the voluntary sector. This will require angling and fisheries organisations to work together at a catchment scale to prioritise action and co-ordinate activities.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust said: “The loss of the statutory advisory committees removes the formal structure for fisheries and angling interests to influence the work of the Agency. We need to work swiftly to ensure that they are replaced by a new system for representation and accountability so that anglers can have a say about how their money is spent and get involved in taking action to protect and improve their waters.”
Mike Heylin, chairman of the Angling Trust said: “There is a very rapid change going on in the way that our fisheries are managed. If anglers, clubs and fisheries want their voice to be heard, they should get involved by joining the Angling Trust, and help us to help them.”