Anglers’ year of dramatic change
Relations between the government and recreational sea angling which sustains 19,000 jobs in England and Wales, reached a new high point last year and anglers are pushing for continued progress in 2006.
The landmark event of 2005 was when sea angling was added to the responsibilities of Defra (Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) which for many years had been concerned only with the commercial fishing industry.
“That recognised recreational and commercial fishing as a single industry and heralded a year of dramatic change”, said Ted Tuckerman, chairman of the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) which has co-ordinated several years of sustained lobbying.
Defra promised a sharper focus on sea angling, to restore and maintain fish stocks for long-term economic returns and proposed measures to develop a world class commercial and recreational bass fishery in Britain.
The number of anglers on each of the 12 sea fisheries committees in England and Wales which regulate and protect inshore fisheries, was increased to two but they remain outnumbered three-to-one by commercial fishermen.
Support for strengthening their role came from the environment select committee which said sea angling’s £1 billion contribution to the UK economy had “been overlooked and under-represented for too long.” Its economic impact was “in many cases, superior to that from commercial fishing.”
Civil servants and ministers now seek advice and information from the NFSA which is represented on several government working groups, including one helping draft this year’s new Marine Bill.