Agreement among MPs on the importance of recreational sea angling (RSA) were just “fine words”, according to Mike Heylin, chairman of the Angling Trust.
Opening the fisheries debate last night (December 1) the fisheries minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, declared: “It would be remiss of me not to mention also the contribution of sea angling which…makes a significant contribution to the UK economy.”
Richard Benyon the Conservative “shadow” fisheries minister echoed him saying sea angling was an extremely important activity.
“Fine words, indeed,” commented Mike Heylin chairman of the Angling Trust afterwards. “Neither promised support to improve and expand the remit of sea anglers and their involvement in managing stocks.
“We are pursuing them to force government action to enable decimated fish stocks to recover and regenerate, including increasing minimum landing sizes so that more fish live to spawn before being killed by commercial fishing.”
In the debate two other MPs urged the minister to ensure full angler representation on the new Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) replacing the 1880s-era sea fisheries committees.
Bill Wiggin (Con. Leominster) said it was essential that angling was properly represented on the IFCAs, “not just lumped in with other interests.”
Martin Salter, Labour’s parliamentary spokesman on angling, agreed that anglers needed a proper voice on the new bodies. They were “woefully under-represented on the old sea fisheries committees.”
Mr. Salter also demanded that the minister again consider the issue of minimum landing sizes (mls) for bass and to say when he would do so.