A loud voice for angling in the corridors of power

24 Mar

This week I was asked how much influence the Angling Trust has in government, and I thought that might make a good subject for my blog.

The Angling Trust was formed five years ago following a merger of six national governing bodies for different disciplines of the sport and other organisations. We have now combined eleven organisations to form a single body to represent all coarse, game and sea anglers. We believe that by joining forces, anglers can have a louder voice to campaign on the many issues that affect our sport. Most politicians don’t know the difference between a spod and a spey cast, but they know that there are more than three million anglers in the country, who can vote them out of a job. By pooling our resources, we can have a much bigger impact and be much more cost effective than eleven separate organisations.

As a result of this merger, angling has never had such a loud voice in government. Our campaigns chief Martin Salter, when he was an MP, set up the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group and we work very closely with the angling MPs on this group to brief them on key issues and to ask them to raise questions in the House of Commons. We have regular meetings with government officials, Ministers and Secretaries of State and occasionally we even make it into Number 10 to meet the Prime Minister. We attend all three of the political party conferences where we host a reception for MPs, party activists and local councillors to make the case for angling to be protected, respected and improved. This initiative alone costs us nearly £10,000 a year – or 400 membership subscriptions.

Richard Benyon MP (until recently the Environment Minister) has accepted our invitation to become an Angling Trust Ambassador and said on his appointment: “I have seen at first hand how effectively the Angling Trust lobbies on behalf of angling and the environment. It is a respected player in the corridors of power because its arguments are evidence-based and coherent. There has never been a more important time for a strong voice for anglers and the rivers, lakes and seas where they fish. It is an honour to be an Ambassador for the Trust.”

However, there is a cautionary notes to add, before you start thinking that the Angling Trust will be able to work political miracles with all this influence. Our political system is incredibly resistant to change; legislation can take many years to jump through all the parliamentary hoops before it becomes law and the government machine only responds rapidly when it is under massive pressure. We have had considerable success over the past 5 years getting small changes to policy and practice which have all been beneficial to angling and fish stocks. If we are to win much bigger battles though, we will need a lot more firepower in the form of cash and members.

This is where you come in. We currently have less than 1% of all anglers in membership. Please join us today, to help us shout even louder in the corridors of power.

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2 Responses to “A loud voice for angling in the corridors of power”

  1. Giles Strother July 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Keep up the good work but please make sure you are representing angler’s views. The common sense on dredging was very welcome, but the stance on beavers..? Any support we can give to re-introducing these species to our waterways should be taken. They are a driver for better ecological condition of rivers and streams. As an angler and naturalist I ask that you retract your statements regarding the removal of beavers in the River Otter and anywhere else. Thanks.

    • marklloydat February 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

      Hi Giles,
      The reasons why we oppose this illegal re-introduction are as follows:
      1. Although beavers were native to some parts of the British Isles more than 500 years ago, our rivers have changed dramatically in the past five centuries and suffer from endemic pollution, over-abstraction of water and the presence more than 20,000 weirs and dams which act as barriers to fish migration. Nearly all fish species, not just trout and salmon, need to migrate up and down rivers in order to complete their life cycle and the addition of beaver dams would only increase the number of obstacles that fish have to overcome. If we remove all these barriers to migration, then beavers present less of a problem to fisheries.
      2. In a healthy natural ecosystem, beavers can actually be beneficial because they introduce woody debris to rivers and their dams can trap silt and create new habitats. However, fewer than 25% of England and Wales’ rivers are in good ecological condition and the Angling Trust’s view is that it would be irresponsible even to consider re-introducing this species into the wild without first restoring our rivers to good health by tackling low flows, pollution and removing the vast majority of man-made barriers to fish migration.
      3. Beavers imported from abroad have the potential to spread the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis which can spread to dogs and humans, for whom it can be fatal. Britain is currently free of this parasite.
      4. Evidence from North America and Germany shows the considerable risk to infrastructure – including flood defence assets, roads and railways – from allowing beavers to become established in high risk and populated areas. An adult beaver can bring down a 10 inch wide tree in under an hour, and a single beaver family will fell up to 300 trees a year. In the upper Danube region of Germany, beavers have caused £5 million of damage. How will riverside residents feel when the only tree in their garden is gnawed down overnight? Or a beaver dam floods a housing estate that has never before flooded? The problem with beavers is that they are very secretive and mainly nocturnal, and they don’t stay put, so they will spread from rural areas to villages and the edges of towns and cities.
      5. The beavers in Devon were almost certainly released illegally by some enthusiasts who believe they can take a unilateral decision on behalf of the whole nation; there was no democratic decision taken with proper consultation with local people, businesses and landowners to seek their views. Natural England’s decision appears to run contrary to that of the elected Secretary of State for the Environment.

      This policy has widespread support from the angling community, particularly in the affected area.
      All best,
      mark

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