Sea anglers have agreed overwhelmingly to pay more to step up their campaign to force the government to protect fish from commercial overfishing so their sport can expand, adding to the £1 billion a year it contributes to the national economy.
In a poll 85 per cent of individual members and 75 per cent of affiliated clubs approved a substantial increase in fees to ensure the future of the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA).
More than 38 per cent of Individual members and over 53 per cent of the nearly 300 sea angling clubs affiliated to the NFSA, responded.
Richard Ferré, chairman, said the agreement which raises individual fees to £26 a year from £16, was "a resounding vote of support" for the NFSA’s work to protect and develop recreational sea angling.
"As the extra cash comes in we plan to employ a full time member of staff to put focus and energy into our conservation lobbying campaign," said Mr. Ferré.
"Every member renewing at the new rates will turn their vote into real revenue. Every member who enrols another will build our strong lobbying machine.
"It sets us on a course beyond the changes of recent years. We recognise, too, that our membership is signalling a higher expectation from the NFSA ."
He warned it was vital for all memberships to be renewed at the new rates, and increase still further the number of new members joining.
The higher fees were forced on the NFSA after Sport England, on behalf of the government, withdrew funding it had been contributing for 30 years amounting to 30 per cent of the its annual income.
Individual members were asked to choose one of three options – not to increase subscriptions and closing down, an increase to cover only the lost government money or a hefty rise to enable the NFSA to become strong and independent.
Membership subscriptions and affiliation fees will be increased as they become due on and after January 1 2008.
As well as the new individual charge (£26 a year up from £16), family membership rises £30 from £19.
Annual club affiliation fees rise to £45 from £25 plus £3 per fishing member (up from £1). Clubs providing details will be able to discount paid-up individual members of the NFSA from from the £3 levy, subject to a minimum £45 fee.
Clubs which admit only paid up NFSA members will just pay the £45 affiliation fee.
Fees for associate membership will rise from £150 to £250.
New life memberships rise to £400 from £300. Existing life members will be requested to make a voluntary one-off contribution of £100, or whatever they can afford or deem appropriate.