At the Liberal Democrats’ party conference in Birmingham this week, senior MPs and Peers gave their support for angling as a sport which could deter young people from antisocial behaviour in urban and rural areas.
The comments were made in a series of speeches at the Rural Reception hosted by the Angling Trust and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) in Birmingham.
Tom Brake MP, who is a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and Co-Chair of the new Liberal Democrat Backbench Committee on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities, noted that:
“There are a number of projects underway using angling as a diversionary activity which would contribute to the prevention of riots. I think it is easy to overlook the kind of valuable contribution a rural sport such as angling can make to urban areas.”
Lord Addington, who is also Vice President of the UK Sports Association, said:
“I’d like to take a moment to address the Angling Trust and say: what you do as a sport is fantastic. Fishing is a brilliant entry sport, allowing people to practise at their own level and providing a great introduction into starting out in, and taking up, a great sport.”
Roger Williams, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, hailed the improvements that anglers make to the water environment, and added:
“I must take a moment to pay tribute to the Wye & Usk Foundation which is working hard in my own constituency to restore the habitat of the rivers, improve water quality and fisheries in the area, and remove barriers to fish migration.”
In his speech to the reception Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, encouraged MPs and Councillors not to support hydropower developments in rivers, which would do great damage to fisheries but generate negligible amounts of electricity. He also urged politicians to take action to reform radically the Common Fisheries Policy which continues to cause a rapid decline in marine fish stocks.
Mark Lloyd said after the event:
“It was very encouraging that everyone I spoke to at the reception had a deep understanding of the benefits that angling can bring to communities, the environment and to the local and national economy. We hope that they will use their influence in the coalition government to promote support of angling and protection of the environment on which it depends.”