Archive | December, 2013

Two early Christmas presents from the Angling Trust to you

23 Dec

This week I want to write about two new resources that the Angling Trust has made available to anglers, free of charge, on the internet.

1. First, there’s our new web site at www.fishinginfo.co.uk that we have produced in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Met Office. It has a massive amount information about fishing venues; angling clubs; tackle shops; river heights; and the past, present and future weather conditions. All this is set out in a brilliant mapping system that allows you to switch between aerial views and maps.  When I plan a fishing trip, I have to go to several web sites to get all the necessary information.  The idea of this site is that all those sites are combined into one to make it easier for more people to go fishing more often.  I’m know a lot about the fishing in my area, but found some new venues just a short drive from my house that I am now looking forward to trying out.

www.fishinginfo.co.uk

http://www.FishingInfo.co.uk – register for FREE and start saving your favourite fishing locations today!

We are just ‘soft launching’ this at the moment, to iron out any bugs and to get all the information on the site up to date.  Please check it out and if you spot a fishery, club or tackle shop with out of date information, then please use the Feedback option on each entry to let us know and we will update their details on the site.  Angling Trust member clubs, fisheries and trade members will get an enhanced listing and will be able to update their details online at any time.

We’ll then be launching the site in March 2014 and it will be publicised by email and post to all anglers who have bought a rod licence in the past two years.  This means that millions of anglers will be alerted to it, and we are likely to get a lot of hits, so if you own a fishery or tackle shop, make sure your website, phone number, opening times etc. are all up to date.

The Angler

The Angler – Autumn 2014 edition is now online!

2. One of the many benefits of being a member of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal is that you get sent our magazine twice a year, free of charge.  We have been putting a lot of work into making it more interesting and readable, based on feedback from our members and have also now put it online for the benefit of non-members as well.  You can read articles by angling luminaries such as Dave Harrell, Brian Clarke, Henry Gilbey and John Horsey here: The Angler online edition, as well as a review of campaign news from the Angling Trust and legal victories from Fish Legal.   We’re aware of some things which didn’t quite work, and we’ll be putting them right in the next copy due out in the spring, but the latest edition, which runs to 76 pages, is the best we have ever produced.  Please send any feedback to admin@anglingtrust.net and this will be useful to us as we work on the next edition.  If you want to get the paper copy of the magazine, please join us at www.anglingtrust.net/join or sign someone else up as a last minute Christmas present!

Finally, I would like to wish all the readers of this blog a very Merry Christmas and a Fishy 2014.  I’ll be writing a review of 2013 and a look forward to next year in a week’s time, so come back and visit then.  Thanks to all of you who have supported us with membership and donations and for those who haven’t, how about making that one of your new year resolutions?

p.s. Don’t forget you can also keep in touch with what is going on with the Angling Trust via our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnglingTrust and also via our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/AnglingTrust .

“The Angling Trust – what have they ever done for me?”

19 Dec

One of the frustrating things about running the Angling Trust is that we often do really important work to protect fish and fishing and the vast majority of anglers are completely unaware of what we have been doing on their behalf. Often it is just not newsworthy enough to get any attention from the angling press and even if it does, there are hundreds of thousands of anglers who never buy an angling publication. So, this week I’m going to share some briefings that we have done jointly with other organisation to try and get some last minute improvements to the Water Bill, which we think has so far failed to include enough measures to address the many problems facing our water environment.

Anyone who fishes on rivers could benefit from this work over the coming decades as we believe that we’ve had real influence that we hope will lead directly to changes that will improve flows and water quality which are vital to fish stocks. Low flows and pollution mean that fish have less food and are less likely to breed and create fish stocks of the future. This work isn’t sexy, but it is vitally important for the future of fishing.

The Angling Trust has worked closely with the RSPB, WWF and the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management to put together a series of briefings to MPs and the committees scrutinising the Bill as it passes through the Houses of Parliament. The fact that we are working alongside these organisations is a sign that the Angling Trust is recognised as a serious and respected organisation that has genuine political influence. We have far fewer members than the RSPB and WWF, but we represent a powerful political constituency, and our membership is gradually growing in all categories.

Specific briefings were submitted, with various partners, on amendments concerning:
1. Fracking
2. Abstraction Reform
3. Metering
4. A sustainable development duty for OFWAT
5. Upstream competition safeguards

Please click on the links above to download the relevant briefing as a small pdf document to see what we have been doing on your behalf.

We can only do this with the support of a (slowly) growing number of anglers who pay us subscriptions and make donations to support our work.

As an angler in England, we hope you feel compelled to join us and lend your voice and support –  visit www.anglingtrust.net or call us during office hours on 01568 620447. We now have a direct debit option that will only cost you £2.50  month, please take advantage of this easy way to pay and spread the cost over a whole year. Thank you.

2013 – A Year of Success

16 Dec
Martin Salter

Martin Salter – Angling Trust National Campaigns Coordinator

This week I’ve decided to hand my blog over to Martin Salter, our National Campaigns Co-ordinator. Martin has worked with us for more than two years now and has made a huge difference to the influence that we have in Westminster. His personal contacts with MPs, Lords and officials and his first-hand knowledge of how the parliamentary system works are invaluable to us. What’s more, he has a great passion for, fish and fishing and decades of experience fighting to protect them from Reading Council to the House of Commons.

Many people are still not aware of the range of work that our campaigns team delivers on behalf of all anglers, paid for by our generous members and donors.

So, over to Martin…

Overview
There has been a huge amount of activity on the campaigns front in 2013 and we are now having to adjust to the government’s Autumn reshuffle which saw us lose Richard Benyon as our Fisheries Minister and virtually an entirely new team installed at Defra. For reasons better known to themselves we now have fisheries, water and biodiversity sitting under three separate ministers rather than one!

We moved fast to establish angling’s credentials with the new ministerial team and sent George Eustice MP (Fisheries & Farming) a comprehensive briefing on key issues within 48 hours of his appointment. We have already met Lord de Mauley (Biodiversity) on the implementation of the new system of cormorant licensing and have scheduled meetings with both Eustice and Dan Rogerson MP (Water) in the next few weeks. We have also briefed the new Shadow Defra team which is now led by Maria Eagle MP.

As ever we are greatly supported behind the scenes by George Hollingbery MP, Charles Walker MP and others from the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group who are extremely effective in lobbying ministers on our behalf.

Angling Trust briefings are now quoted in Parliament and we are called from time to time to give evidence to Select Committees and to committees scrutinising relevant legislation. Our media profile has increased out of all recognition and we are regularly contacted by both the national press and broadcast media on issues to do with fish, fishing and the environment.

It is a measure of our increasing standing in the public realm that not only are the major NGOs keen to work in partnership with us but that both sides of politics see the Angling Trust as a serious and worthwhile organisation with which they need to build links.

Major Campaigns
We’ve been working hard on a number of specific campaigns but I particularly want to highlight the Severn Barrage, canoe access, dredging, Chalk Stream Charter, the Water Bill, fracking and cormorant licensing in the freshwater area. On the marine front I have secured a commitment from George Eustice that the bass minimum landing size review will continue on his watch. This was significant as the issue fell once before due to a change in ministers. The launch last month of Sea Angling 2012 showed the true economic value of sea angling and what is at stake if the decline in fish stocks is not halted. The ‘Give Fish a Chance’ campaign that we are planning with the Marine Conservation Society in order to secure better protection for our estuaries and inshore waters now has a strong new context in which to operate.

Severn Barrage
Strong representations from the Angling Trust working in partnership with the Rivers Trust, S&TA, RSPB and other environmental NGOs saw the government back away from supporting plans by the Hafren Power consortium which would have impounded the estuaries of the Wye, Severn and Usk and created a barrier to migratory fish in a staggering 25% of the salmonid habitat of England and Wales. I was called to give evidence to Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on behalf of the Angling Trust and our case against the barrage was featured strongly in the national media.
See here for more information: http://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?section=29&itemid=1839

Canoe Access
Angling on an increasing number of smaller rivers is being threatened by the actions of militant canoe groups who are ripping up long established Voluntary Access Agreements in support of their statutory right to paddle campaign. We have secured a commitment from the government that there will be no change in public policy on VAAs but we are now seeking to apply ministerial pressure to the British Canoe Union who are actively encouraging canoeists to break the law and ride roughshod over the rights of anglers and riparian owners. We have compiled a comprehensive dossier of evidence which will be presented to government shortly in an attempt to link the receipt of public funds with an obligation to respect the law of the land and the rights of other users.
See here for more information: http://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?section=29&from=2013/01/01&to=2014/01/01&page=2&itemid=1926

Dredging
Following promises made by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to the National Farmers Union Defra announced a pilot scheme to allow farmers and landowners greater freedom to dredge rivers themselves to try and stop them flooding rather than leaving it up to the Environment Agency to manage. The Angling Trust and other environmental and fisheries groups had campaigned vigorously against these plans because dredging can cause catastrophic damage to river ecology and it very rarely makes any significant difference whatsoever to flooding. The new pilots, whilst very unwelcome and potentially the thin end of the wedge are thankfully considerably more restrictive than the original proposals. We will be monitoring the pilots extremely carefully for any breach of conditions and will be opposing any moves to widen their scope.
See here for more information: http://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?section=29&itemid=1765

Chalk Stream Charter
Back in December I brought together national wildlife and conservation organisations in alliance with local river restoration groups in a special summit to press the government and its agencies to radically reform water policies to enable England’s endangered chalk streams to return to good health. The Charter for Chalk streams followed on and was launched in May in Hertfordshire by the Angling Trust, WWF, the Wildlife Trusts, the Rivers Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association. The Charter calls for a range of measures, including the wholesale reform of unsustainable abstraction licensing, the introduction of compulsory water metering to cut demand and increased storage of winter run off.

The BBC Radio Four flagship ‘Face the Facts’ featured the Charter in its recent Sold Down the River programme. The timing of our launch was particularly relevant for a national programme with the publication of the government’s disappointing new Water Bill following hard on the heels of the Charter’s call for radical action. We are using the Charter to find champions in parliament and elsewhere who are prepared not just to stand up for our rivers but to argue for the policies needed to give them a future.
See here for more information: http://fightingforfishing.anglingtrust.net/2013/05/29/save-our-chalk-streams/

The Water Bill
This is a key issue for the world of angling for without adequate and healthy water resources fish stocks will diminish. In the introduction to the 2011Water White Paper the Environment Secretary explained why reform was urgently needed with only a quarter of our water bodies now ‘fully functioning ecosystems’, water supplies under stress, challenges of population growth and climate change, and how action is needed to ‘keep our rivers flowing and our water supplies reliable and affordable’. These were fine words but in our view the Water Bill currently before parliament lacks the strength or ambition to rise to the challenges so correctly outlined in the White Paper.

We have been working closely with both MPs and the Blueprint for Water Coalition to try and amend the Water Bill and introduce reforms that ensure the sustainability and resilience of the water industry, the protection of the freshwater environment, and; fairness for customers. We have been successful in some of the abstraction reforms and were encouraged by the Second Reading debate which now, for the first time, offers the prospect of some meaningful introduction of water metering and demand management.
See here for more information: http://fightingforfishing.anglingtrust.net/2013/11/26/making-a-mark-for-water/

Fracking
Experience from the USA and our colleagues at Trout Unlimited tells us that fracking for shale gas poses significant risks for our rivers and groundwater, including the serious hazard of water pollution and the increased pressure the industry will place on water resources. Fracking is a new technology in the UK, and there are inherent risks that cannot be fully addressed by the regulatory regime. Groundwater pollution is one such risk, and clean-up would be expensive with potentially devastating impacts on the supply of water and the natural environment.

The Angling Trust along with WWT, RSPB and the Salmon and Trout Association has produced a parliamentary briefing on Fracking and the Water Bill which promotes the view that the Bill provides an opportunity to improve the regulatory regime and to require stronger guarantees from contractors to resolve any future pollution incidents.
See here for more information: http://fightingforfishing.anglingtrust.net/2013/09/17/why-anglers-should-give-a-fruck-about-fracking/

Cormorant Licensing
We have been pressing ministers to be open with the angling community about the numbers of birds that can be shot under the new rules announced back in July. However it is clear that the government is nervous about attracting further negative publicity in the context of the current badger cull and is keen to find another way forward that retains the integrity of their announcement to ‘improve the way we manage the impacts of fish-eating birds’. The Angling Trust accepts that there is some headroom in the first year of the new scheme to operate within the current 2006 guidance (i.e. to shoot under licence up to 3,000 birds) providing that the government gives a firm commitment to be prepared to suspend the national limits should subsequent year end reviews show that the combined catchment need exceeds the current total allowable number, and that the conservation status of the birds is not threatened.

Throughout this whole lengthy process the Angling Trust has acted responsibly and has sought to find a way forward that allows Ministers to make good their public commitments to supporting fisheries and rural businesses who are under threat of severe damage or closure as a result of significantly increased predation by cormorants and goosanders. We have submitted compelling evidence in a 10,000 word dossier on the impacts of cormorant predation following a near 15 fold increase in their numbers since 1981. We are still awaiting a final response from ministers.
See here for more information: http://www.anglingtrust.net/news.asp?section=29&itemid=1507

Economic Value of Angling
There are around 3 million anglers in the UK, contributing at least £4 billion to the economy. Angling directly employs some 37,000 people in England and Wales and indirectly supports many other jobs, particularly in coastal and rural communities. Anglers are therefore the largest constituencies of interest in the water environment and angling is a major industry that needs to be protected by the government. Sea angling is indeed a considerably larger industry than the commercial sea fishing sector, but has traditionally received far less political attention and absolutely no subsidies. Across the whole of England & Wales the commercial catching sector only lands £184 million worth of fish (first sale value) which, as a previous Conservative Minister John Gummer said, is a smaller industry than the lawn mowing sector! In England there are only 5,200 full time fishermen (plus a further 700 part time). The recent Sea Angling 2012 commissioned by Defra showed that sea angling contributes £2 billion to the economy and supports a total of 23,600 jobs. We are planning to use the results of Sea Angling 2012 to make the case for the better protection of marine stocks and for the designation of key areas as recreational or hook and line only fisheries as successfully introduced in Australia, Florida and the Seychelles.

Working with the Tackle Trade
I continue to work with the tackle trade on shared issues and campaigns. ATA members were very helpful in garnering letters of support for our initiative on bass conservation measures and the Trust actively supported the launch of National Fishing Month and secured the involvement of the then Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon.

The Angling Trust attends all the major tackle and trade shows including Tackle and Guns, The Game Fair, The Big One, Evesham Festival, Carp Society Winter Show, The British Fly Fair International, Carping On, The Northern Angling Show and Longleat. I regularly speak at the various forums organised at these shows.

On the European front I was invited to Lisbon in October to give a presentation to first workshop held in Europe by The Berkley Conservation Institute, the environmental arm of the global tackle giants Pure Fishing. I drew on experiences in the UK and on my Keep Australia Fishing report in an examination of ‘good and bad practice in the management, governance and promotion of recreational fishing’.

The workshop was entitled….Exploring threats to recreational and sport fishing across Europe…and was seeking to examine ‘conflicts between recreational fisheries and EU policy and other legislative frameworks and explore how to best resolve such conflicts’. I was joined by Jan Kappel from the European Angler’s’ Alliance (EAA) and a number of prominent fishery scientists from the US, England and Portugal including Dr Ian Cowx, Director of Hull International Fisheries Institute.

I’m hoping we will see further engagement from the tackle trade in support of our work to ensure a strong future for fish and fishing.

Martin Salter
Angling Trust National Campaigns Coordinator
December 2013

Sainsbury’s Confess ‘British’ Eels Actually From New Zealand!

2 Dec

Sainsbury's sign

The Chief Executive of Sainsbury’s, Justin King CBE, has written to the Angling Trust admitting that jellied eels sold in his supermarkets are not British, as they were marketed, but are from New Zealand. He was responding to a challenge by the Angling Trust, who had been informed by the National Anguilla Club that eels were sold in Sainsbury’s under a sign saying “from sustainable sources from around the British Isles”. Mr King said “as a result of your communication, we will ensure that communications at our store fish counters are as clear as possible.” Eels used to be a vital part of freshwater ecosystems and their decline by 95% in recent decades is nothing short of a disgrace.  They are also favoured foods by otters and cormorants, who are presumably turning to other fish now that they can’t catch as many eels to eat.  This story was picked up by The Guardian and also as far afield as New Zealand.

> Read more

Two Billion Pound Spend Highlights Huge Value Of Recreational Sea Angling

Recreational sea angling in England supported over two billion pounds in total spending and supported over 23,000 jobs in 2012 according to the results published this week in a Defra-funded report entitled Sea Angling 2012, which was a survey of recreational sea angling activity and economic value in England.  The Angling Trust has been closely involved in the production of this report, which will provide us with useful ammunition when campaigning to get Ministers to protect marine fish stocks for the benefit of sea angling.  However you cut the cake, that contribution to the economy is far greater than the UK catching sector and we will be doing all that we can to promote this fact to Defra officials and Ministers who tend to pay close attention when the commercials demand the right to catch ever more fish.   This story was picked up by The Times, but I can’t link to it because of their pay wall.

> Read more

What this demonstrates is that the Angling Trust, as the unified representative body for all anglers is capable of generating press coverage in the national and international media.  We can only do this with the support of membership subscriptions and donations from anglers.  If you’re not already a member, please join up at www.anglingtrust.net/join or call 01568 620447 during office hours.  It only takes five minutes, but it would mean the world to us.

Canoe Trespass Must Be Tackled

2 Dec
angler with canoes

Angler with canoes

We have been very busy over the past few months working on the issue of canoe access in both England and Wales and we need your help (see how at the bottom of this blog). It’s important to state up front that the Angling Trust is not anti-canoeing, and we think that there should be more canoe access to rivers where appropriate, but we simply believe that access should be controlled so that it doesn’t damage fish and fishing. We live on a small island with 60 million other people and we need rules to avoid conflict between users of natural resources. Anglers have close seasons, bylaws and other restrictions on what we can do and where we can go (and we pay licences and permits). Why shouldn’t paddlers?

This week, we have launched a major dossier of evidence documenting the rise of unlawful canoeing, the role of the UK’s Canoeing Governing Bodies in blocking the England and Wales Governments’ policy of Voluntary Access Agreements and the impact on fisheries, anglers, angling clubs and riparian owners. Please CLICK HERE to read the press release and download the dossier and please spread the word.

Last week, the Angling Trust and other partners launched the Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (www.accesscymru.org) in response to proposals being mooted by the Welsh Government for universal access for canoes to all rivers in Wales. We heard yesterday that the green paper on this subject that was going to be launched this autumn has now been put back until late January at the earliest. We believe that this is a result of our campaign and the hundreds of letters that have been sent to Assembly Members by anglers, farmers and landowners, but we need to keep up the pressure.

How can YOU help?
To support this initiative, please visit the web site and sign up as a supporter, which takes less than 1 minute. There are also instructions about how to contact the politicians in Wales if you have time to do a bit more. Even if you don’t fish in Wales, this is important for you too, because it could be the thin end of the wedge for a similar policy in England…

And finally…

I couldn’t help notice on a well-known canoe campaign forum the following exchange:

“Fair play to the Anglers for getting organised, calling the troops to arms and setting out a stratergy for members / interested parties to follow. I think they are wrong, but fair play to them for recognising what needs to be done to fight their corner, and then getting off their backsides and doing it.”

“Unlike us they have a representative organisation that is run by anglers, whereas we have a representative organisation run by people in suits who don’t paddle.”

No comment!

Please join us for £2.50 a month, less than the cost of a pint, by visiting www.anglingtrust.net/join We fight to protect your fish and fishing!