At the Angling Summit, held on Monday, Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP promised that the marine and freshwater angling community would be closely involved in decision-making at a local level and nationally through its representative body, the Angling Trust. As an example he indicated that he was prepared to take “bold decisions” with regard to the recently announced review of cormorant licensing and that his officials were meeting with the Angling Trust to draw up the terms of reference for this review.
He also said that the Government was looking for new ways of maximising the many benefits of the nation’s favourite pastime to society. He recognised the huge contribution that angling already makes to protecting the freshwater and marine environment, its importance for health and wellbeing and its contribution to the economy, in particular rural areas and coastal towns.
The Minister pledged that the Government would do all it could to make it easier for angling clubs and associations to operate by reducing red tape and regulation which often deters volunteers from organising activities for young people at a local level. He also indicated that the Government was keen to adopt a catchment-based approach to environmental management.
Building trust between anglers and the Government was also high on the agenda with many sea angling representatives concerned about the proposed data collection project recently proposed by Defra. The Angling Trust stressed that marine fish stocks were suffering only because of decades of commercial overfishing; regulation of sea anglers would therefore be unfair.
More than 100 delegates, representing all sectors of the angling and fisheries community, heard presentations from a range of speakers about good practice for increasing the social, environmental and economic benefits of angling. All attendees then took part in workshops to identify ways of increasing the number of people going fishing and the many benefits of angling to society.
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, spoke at the conference and said afterwards: “We welcome this event as an indication that the Government is keen to listen and to acknowledge the importance of angling in all its forms. However, after decades of decreasing recognition of angling we need to see real action to follow up on the fine words. The Angling Trust will continue to press the Government and its agencies to increase angling access and to restore marine and freshwater fish stocks, many of which are in terminal decline.”