150 anglers gathered in Camborne today to protest against the changes in bass regulations introduced this year. We weren’t protesting against change: we were protesting about the lack of change for our bass AND the utterly unfair balance of the changes made (for details why we are so livid look here: Cornish Bass Protest )
It was an early start from Bristol for a 10 am meet. Three of us from Bristol picked up two fellow BASS members from South Wales at the motorway then raced west to voice our dispeasure.
At the demonstration I talked to both friends and strangers on the march. Many were Cornish, others from Devon, and a few from places as far flung as Kent and North Wales. Sea anglers are normally solitary and apolitical creatures yet here we all were driven out by our anger. Had so many sea anglers (let alone bass anglers) ever assembled like this to protest – none of us thought so. With high held banners and sense of shared injustice we headed en masse to express our displeasure at the constituency office of George Eustic the local MP and the UK Fisheries Minister.
At Eustace’s office however it was obvious there was nobody home – although he knew we were coming given Malcom Gilbert (the protest organiser) had visited over 3 weeks before to inform them -plus many anglers unable to march had written….I guess if nothing else, the minister is cute enough to know how to avoid unwanted photo opportunities.
The West Cornwall MP did however put out a statement on his Facebook page. Sadly his words only further demonstrated he really doesn’t get what we are saying still! His statement indicated he believed we were marching as we wanted to catch more bass this year: not because the restrictions he had agreed to were unfair to anglers AND insufficient to halt the stock decline. Given the numerous letters so many of us have written I find this misunderstanding hard to understand. Either the Minister just doesn’t listen or he really is a fool.
So we went home angry to be ignored but pleased with what we had achieved. The fact that a local protest organised by The Cornish Federation of Sea anglers (hardly the biggest or the most radical of organisations) could attract 150 people prepared to give up their Saturday is amazing. Yet those of us present were certainly just the tip of the iceberg given how notoriously apolitical anglers normally are. If you put these facts in the context of the whole of the UK and those seeking our vote should take note.
Much publicity was also generated from this event. Malcolm Gilbert had been interviewed (for the second item up ) on the SW evening news as well as having done several regional radio interviews. There were also press photographers and reporters present today and further coverage is in the offing. With each report greater the awareness of this stitch-up grows outside the sea angling world. Surely soon politians will properly realise ignoring the science and the economics is not politically smart.
As we left many were talking about further protests in other parts of the country. For when and where, watch this space….
Words and pictures: Matt Spence