Angling Trust Goes It Alone With Data Collection Exercise

The Angling Trust will be embarking on its own data collection exercise into Recreational Sea Angling (RSA) in the UK. This follows a series of difficult negotiations, which failed to find common ground in the way a DEFRA-sponsored survey on this subject would be carried out by CEFAS.

The Angling Trust is disappointed that CEFAS has failed to provide simple reassurances about the collection and use of data which would have enabled the Trust to recommend to sea anglers that they should take part in this potentially crucial exercise.

The Trust is very concerned that any data CEFAS collected would not reflect the true benefit of Recreational Sea Angling to the economy and that the survey might dramatically overstate the negligible impact of RSA on fish stocks compared to commercial fishing by failing to select a representative sample of anglers.

Stuart McPherson, Chairman of the Trust’s Marine Committee, said about the decision “We were prepared to work with CEFAS on this survey but not at the expense of the interests of our members and good science. We have decided to compile our own database so that any external data can be verified.

We will now carry out our own survey of recreational sea angling to ensure that we have statistics which can be trusted by sea anglers. This information will be used to protect our sport from any misinformation or prejudice which might result from inaccurate data. The information gathered with the co-operation of all anglers will, we believe, demonstrate that recreational sea angling is sustainable and re-confirm the huge benefit of angling to the economy.”

It is unlikely that without the co-operation of sea anglers DEFRA will be able to collect any meaningful data on RSA and the Trust hopes that in the light of this CEFAS will think again about their decision not to meet the Trust’s reasonable requirements for co-operation.

In March 2009, the Trust’s Marine Committee voted to cooperate with the CEFAS survey and to assist further the development of the electronic log book and collection of data. This decision was adopted on the condition that full access to the raw data was granted and that the Trust had a seat on the steering group compiling the data for presentation. Unfortunately CEFAS felt unable to agree to either of these entirely reasonable requests.

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust says of the decision “We are very keen to ensure that any information gathered about RSA is accurate and credible. Anglers’ interests have repeatedly been ignored in the past because decision-makers have used information supplied by the commercial fishing industry and its professional lobby. We are not prepared to see decisions which might affect the next generation of sea anglers being taken based on inaccurate and unrepresentative data. We very much hope that CEFAS will reconsider its decision.”