Calls for the creation of a single body to represent anglers' interests in Britain have been welcomed by EFTTA, the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association.

The renewed push for just one organisation to be the political force for the UK's four million anglers, came as sea anglers were reported to be furious at proposals to make fishing from beaches and piers subject to a licence system.

A similar system launched in Portugal last year has been catastrophic for fishing tackle sales.  

Licences are expected to cost £25 a year for adults or £5 for children, for anyone fishing from a beach or a pier. Ministers say cash from the licences will help manage fish stocks and say the fees could be used to improve conditions for the sport.

Richard Ferré, from the National Federation of Sea Anglers, which is leading the opposition to the licences, said: "We've had a lot of sympathy for our position from other anglers. This is the sort of issue on which a new group can help. It makes a lot more sense if the argument comes from one large, powerful organisation."

EFTTA represents the interests of more than 200 members of the fishing tackle trade across Europe and employs a full-time lobbyist in Brussels. It campaigns tirelessly to support the industry, with all profits from its huge EFTTEX trade show directed back into the sport.

An EFTTA spokesman said today: "We support the initiative of creating a single body to represent the interests of UK recreational fishing. This voice would give angling the power it needs to persuade and lobby those in favour of introducing the planned costly licences for children and adults.

"The UK government needs to deliver improved fishing before EFTTA supports the introduction of sea angling licences."

Anglers maintain that commercial fishing is the biggest threat to marine conservation, and argue that it will be prohibitively expensive to police all 2,500 miles of Britain's coastline in an effort to catch licence-dodgers.

The UK proposal would require everyone over the age of 12 who fishes in the sea with a rod and line to have a licence. This alone sparked moves to create a single body to speak for recreational fishing, which has traditionally been split into different interests, such as sea and inland angling or game and coarse fishing.