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Angling Trust's recognition for sea angling campaign receives Commons Committee boost

21.01.19

Sea Angler on Beach in Surf

A powerful House of Commons committee has backed calls by the Angling Trust to write recreational sea angling into legislation as a recognised stakeholder in the UK’s marine fishery for the first time in history. Up to now sea angling has had no formal status and no access to funding but this could all be about to change.

Following evidence presented in December by Angling Trust Policy Chief and former MP Martin Salter, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has just published its report on the government’s new Fisheries Bill stating:

"We regard the Bill as an opportunity to acknowledge the recreational fishing sector as a stakeholder in UK sea fisheries and recognise the advantages of more joined up thinking between the recreational and commercial sectors. We recommend that Clause 2(2)(h) be expanded to make explicit reference to recreational fishing. (Paragraph 94)"

Neil Parish MP, the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said: “What the Fisheries Bill represents is a real, once-in-a-generation chance to overhaul an outdated, overly-rigid policy. The Government needs to cast its net far and wide in order to capture and truly harness the benefits this Bill offers… We must also recognise the importance of the recreational fishing sector as a valid, valued stakeholder in UK sea fisheries and recognise the advantages of more joined up thinking between commercial and recreational industries.”

Giving evidence on the formal recognition of recreational sea angling, Martin Salter told MPs: “Your constituents who fish recreationally will tell you that for many years they have been sick and tired of seeing their recreational sea angling experience fall off a cliff edge as stocks are overfished, and in some cases get driven into parlous conditions. They feel that the recreational sector, despite its economic significance for jobs and for coastal communities, is basically being left to feed on the crumbs that are left over after commercial exploitation has had its whack.

"If you look at quality fishery management - at the American and New Zealand fishery conservation legislation - shares are allocated to both recreational and commercial sectors. There is proper resource sharing. There is consideration in a sensible, grown-up, policy development way - recognising the social and economic impacts of the exploitation of different stocks for different purposes.”

The government too appears to be responding positively to the Angling Trust campaign, which gained strong support from Shadow Fisheries Minister Luke Pollard MP, with Fisheries Minister George Eustice promising to come back with further amendments to add sea angling onto the face of the Bill.

Martin Salter and David Mitchell, Head of Marine at the Angling Trust, are set to meet with DEFRA officials to discuss the proposed amendments prior to the Report Stage of Fisheries Bill in the Commons.

Martin Salter said: “Recreational fishing is reliant on access to abundant and sustainably-managed fish stocks and it is vital that we have a seat at the table when decisions are made on how these stocks are to be distributed. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy has consistently failed to manage stocks sustainably and this new Fisheries Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to put this right and to usher in a new deal for sea anglers. That’s why we have been working so hard to have our voices heard in Parliament and it looks like our efforts are paying off.”

Useful links:

EFRA select Committee Report

EFRA press announcement

Angling Trust evidence

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