Angling Trust duo Mark Lloyd and Martin Salter have just completed the rounds of party political conferences where they ensured that anglers’ messages were communicated right to the top of British politics. The Trust jointly organised, with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), three ‘rural receptions’ at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, at Labour’s Brighton bash and with the Liberal Democrats in Glasgow. More than 300 conference delegates, ranging from local councillors to government Ministers, attended the events.
Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd said: “We believe there’s huge value in hosting these receptions jointly with our colleagues at BASC at the major party conferences each year because it is a vital way of getting our message heard and getting the political parties to put on record their support for angling. Ministers speaking at our events all referred to the millions of anglers who vote, the importance of angling to the economy and the role that anglers play protecting the water environment. These are all messages that the Angling Trust, as the unified representative body for all anglers, has managed to imprint on the core thinking of politicians in all the major parties. We want a situation where angling is always supported whoever wins the General Election and for anglers’ interests to be considered in the hundreds of policy decisions made each year which affect fish and fishing.”
The importance of angling and shooting was highlighted by Owen Paterson MP, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Speaking at the joint reception in Manchester Mr Paterson said:
“Everything that BASC and the Angling Trust do is slap bang in the middle of the DEFRA brief to grow the rural economy and improve the environment. We have a different view to the last Government, we have to manage the countryside and wildlife and we are not frightened about doing that.”
Addressing an audience at the Labour Conference Martin Salter, National Campaign Coordinator for the Angling Trust and a former Labour MP, outlined the close working relationship between the Angling Trust and BASC. He said that angling is a very popular recreational sport and its participants are passionate environmentalists whose sport depends on clean waterways and healthy marine fish stocks.
At the Conservative Conference Martin even managed to raise the issue of bass conservation and the need for a larger minimum landing size in a chance encounter with Prime Minister David Cameron which saw them comparing notes on their separate unsuccessful bass fishing trips to Cornwall.
Martin Salter said:
“Thanks to having a strong, professional and unified voice angling is now in the happy place where senior politicians of all parties willingly line up to extol the virtues of our sport and the contribution it makes to both the economy and the environment. This represents a sea change from where we were ten years ago and shows how important it is that we remain united. We can only afford to attend these events because of our growing army of members and donors that provide the funding for us to make the case for angling to politicians.”
Other issues raised with senior politicians included:
· The Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson about dredging and cormorants
· The Government Chief Whip Sir George Young and the Lib Dem Rural Affairs Minister David Heath about hydropower
· The Lib Dem Parliamentary Under Secretary for Wales Baroness Randerson about canoeing in Wales
· The Shadow Fisheries minister Barry Gardiner about the Severn barrage