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Angling Trust speaks up for sea anglers in Parliament on Fisheries Bill


Sea Angler fishing on beach

Angling Trust Campaigns Chief and former MP Martin Salter has been back in his old workplace banging the drum for recreational sea angling as a participant in the parliamentary scrutiny of the government’s new Fisheries Bill. Following the Second Reading debate last month, in which the Angling Trust briefings to MPs were extensively quoted, Martin was invited to present evidence to both the Fisheries Bill Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committees who are scrutinising the proposals in detail.             

In written evidence to both committees the Trust stated:         

“Recreational sea fishing...contributes an overall economic impact to the UK of well over £2bn each year as well as employing over 20,000 people. Yet, despite this, recreational fishing has never been considered as a legitimate stakeholder in the management of European fish stocks through the Common Fisheries Policy. This is at odds with other World-leading countries in sea fisheries management such as the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

As a direct user stakeholder of UK fish stocks recreational fishing is reliant on access to abundant and sustainably-managed fish stocks… There must be a binding duty in the Fisheries Bill for fishing limits to be set using scientific advice.”

The Angling Trust is promoting two amendments to the Bill, which MPs have already agreed will be put to the vote. The first argues that recreational sea angling must be formally acknowledged as a legitimate stakeholder in future fisheries policy with a full seat at the table. The second calls for commercial overfishing to be ended through a legally binding duty placed on Ministers only to set fishing limits that do not exceed best scientific advice in order to rebuild fish stocks.           

Giving evidence to the Bill Committee on Wednesday Mr Salter said: “It is worth putting on the record that, despite the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, some 44 per cent of total allowable catch limits were set (last year) above scientifically recommended limits.  We would like to see a binding duty for Ministers to set total allowable catch limits in line with scientific advice, rather than this dreadful horse trading that takes place every year at the European Fisheries Council, which is no model of sustainable fisheries management at all.”

On the formal recognition of recreational sea angling on the face of the Bill he 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... Yes, putting it on the face of the Bill would send a strong signal, and would also mean a sea change from the very discredited policies of the Common Fisheries Policy. What I think this Bill is really about is recognising that this is a new chapter for fisheries management. That is why I would urge you to support our amendment.”  

In later sessions other expert witnesses signalled their support for the Angling Trust proposals.

The Fisheries Bill is expected to conclude its Committee stage in the Commons before Christmas prior to further scrutiny by the House of Lords.

David Mitchell, Head of Marine at the Angling Trust said: “As a direct user stakeholder of UK fish stocks recreational fishing is reliant on access to abundant and sustainably-managed fish stocks. The Common Fisheries Policy has consistently failed to manage stocks sustainably and the 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 were have been working so hard to have our voices heard in Parliament.” 

  • The full transcript of evidence is available here.
  • The Angling Trust evidence can be seen here.
  • The Angling Trust Second Reading Briefing can be seen here.
  • In July, the Angling Trust produced a comprehensive submission to the Fisheries White Paper which can be seen here.

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