Government assurances are being sought today to ensure sea anglers will have an “essential and continuing” role in the work of ten new authorities that will regulate and conserve inshore fisheries right around England from next year.
Peter Macconnell, chairman of the Angling Trust sea angling conservation group, says it is “a matter of serious concern” that no specific mention has been made of sea anglers being included in the new Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs)” some of which may have 30 members.
He says the government has “eroded and ignored” the economic, environmental and social benefits of angling while the aspirations of commercial fishing have been over-emphasised.
In a strongly-worded letter to the the environment department (Defra) he laments it using the term “fishing community” to cover all fishing, including sea angling. “We feel strongly it will be taken to mean simply the high profile commercial fishing industry, ignoring by default the very valuable recreational angling industry.”
Mr. Macconnell asks Defra for “an unambiguous commitment” to give sea anglers an important role in the the new authorities which will replace sea fisheries committees set up in the 1880s.
He says it has been well known for at least six years that up to a million men, women and youngsters take part in sea angling supporting 19,000 jobs in England and Wales alone.
The sport was economically, environmentally and socially significant. and sea anglers were practical conservationists.
“They must play an active role and be seen to be doing so, in every IFCA that is established,” he said. Individual sea anglers had applied for membership on all of them.