The Angling Trust was busy representing the interests of anglers in the corridors of power on Wednesday last week, with our Head of Freshwater Mark Owen giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Select Committee in the House of Commons and our National Campaigns Co-ordinator Martin Salter briefing the House of Lords on amendments needed to the Government’s Water Bill.
Mark Owen gave evidence on invasive non-native species to the Environmental Audit Committee which is chaired by Joan Walley MP, alongside Professor Max Wade from the Chartered Institute of Ecology & Environmental Management and Henry Robinson, President of the Country Land and Business Association, among others. Mark highlighted the threat of non-native invasive species to the angling sector and informed the committee about the impact of signal crayfish on fish eggs and fry and that they can make fishing impossible. He described the Angling Trust’s work to reduce the impact of these pests. He stressed that there are many more invasive species that could reach our shores with similar impacts, such as the quagga mussels, Black Sea gobies, and invasive shrimps and urged the Committee to take action to:
- Ratify the Ballast Water Convention, (Jamaica & France have done so, why can’t we?!);
- Improve public information because of widespread ignorance about invasive species and their impact;
- Reform the laws around invasive species, which are not fit for purpose;
- Speed up the process for banning imports and for the response to new species that arrive;
- Align research council funding to investigate eradication and pathways;
- Support European Regulations currently under discussion to stop invasive species moving around Europe
- Develop action plans for known new threats such as king crabs which have escaped from Russian farms and are spreading into the North Sea, and the opening up of new trade routes through the Arctic.
Meanwhile over in the House of Lords, former MP Martin Salter was joined by the Heads of Water Policy for both WWF and RSPB in seeking to persuade peers to toughen up the government’s ‘timid little’ Water Bill so that it includes a clear timetable to end so many of the damaging over-abstractions of water from our rivers and chalk streams and to remove barriers to the introduction of universal water metering which can both cut demand and protect the environment.
There is no doubt that the Angling Trust is now taken seriously by politicians and opinion formers from right across the political spectrum, which has to be good news for angling as a whole. For far too long Parliament passed legislation and conducted formal inquiries on issues that had serious consequences for fish, fishing and fisheries without bothering to get the views of the nation’s largest participant sport. We can’t guarantee to win every battle, to get every bill reformed or to see every Select Committee report to come down on the side of angling, but at least we are now starting to punch something like our true weight where it matters.
If you want to support our work fighting for fish and fishing, please join at www.anglingtrust.net/join or phone 01568 620447 during office hours. It only takes a couple of minutes and costs just £25.