Is the Angling Trust Still Independent?

In my last blog, I wrote about the new contract for rod licence revenues to fund the work of the Angling Trust.  Because this comes from the Environment Agency, some of our members have been concerned that this might mean that the independence of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal to challenge the Environment Agency, the government and its agencies might in some way be compromised. It’s understandable how people might reach this conclusion, but I can guarantee that this is not the case.

The first point to make is that we have been funded by Rod Licence revenues from the Environment Agency for the past 5 years and I don’t think anyone could accuse us of shying away from criticising the Environment Agency or government in that time.  This new contract just formalises the work that we have been doing on an informal partnership basis for many years.

It’s important to note that the funding comes from rod licence revenue, rather than from the EA’s grant in aid, or from Defra.  It is anglers’ money being returned to be spent on angling. Most of our criticism of the EA is about other departments than fisheries, such as flood defence, water resources, pollution regulation, hydropower etc.   Now that we have our position as preferred contractor confirmed, after a competitive tendering process, we can be even more confident that any criticism we level at the EA or Defra cannot affect the funding that we receive to deliver this contract.

By way of evidence, we have just launched a judicial review of the government and Environment Agency’s failure to tackle agricultural pollution in protected areas, which we are fighting robustly (see news about this on our web site HERE).  We have also recently challenged the Agency very strongly about its water quality monitoring regime and its corporate failure to address the decline in salmon populations.

Furthermore, we have been very clear with the EA, including in meetings with its Chief Executive and Chairman, that we will remain a ‘critical friend’ which will involve criticising them robustly when they fail to protect fish and fishing, which is their statutory duty.

Finally, if ever we were in a position where we were told to stop being critical or lose our funding, we would immediately go public about attempts to silence us and if necessary withdraw from the contract.

The role of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal, first and foremost, is to represent our members.  Indeed, Fish Legal is legally required by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to act in the best interests of its members.  It is of course a shame that less than 0.1% of anglers currently support us by becoming individual members and so we have to seek external funding to pay for our ambitious programme of work to protect and improve fish stocks and fishing, but there it is.

All of the campaigning and political lobbying carried out by the Angling Trust, and all of the legal work of Fish Legal, is funded by membership subscriptions, donations and legacies and cannot be funded by rod licence revenue.  If we are to grow our capacity to do more in these areas, which we need to do, we need more people to pay us just £25 a year as an individual member, whether or not the club they belong to is affiliated to the Angling Trust and/or Fish Legal.

Please join us HERE

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