Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon in his opening address to the Institute of Fisheries Management Annual Conference in Oxford stated that his vision was to unleash the ‘emotional capital’ of anglers as a force for the good of the environment, so playing their part in Big Society. He saw the Government as providing the framework and the anglers playing their part in delivery. Anglers are the eyes and ears, helping others to protect the environment. He cited a number of cases where fishing had improved the quality of people’s lives, including projects such as ‘Get Hooked on Fishing’ and ‘Dreamstore’.
He went on to outline how the Government is determined to help people reconnect with nature, since this gives so many benefits to society, especially through the involvement of young people. The evidence is that having more people on the river bank can reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, along with other healing powers. Angling is playing a major part in this already and additionally makes a significant contribution to the economy. ‘Emotional capital is even more important when financial capital is in short supply’ stated the Minister.
Restoring environments, improving lives
He highlighted several initiatives by Government to promote partnerships and inject capital into Big Society, such as the Catchment Restoration Fund, Big Society Capital bank and the extension of fish passage legislation next year that will restore our aquatic environments and improve the quality of people’s lives.
He saluted the Institute of Fisheries Management for choosing the topic of ‘The rejuvenating role of urban fisheries in the Big Society’ for their Annual Conference. He concluded ‘keep in touch – together we can make it happen.’