EFTTA will play a key role next week in a debate about the effects of introducing recreational sea angling licences in the UK.

The Angling Trades Association, which represents the tackle trade in the UK, is holding an Open Forum to discuss the proposed Recreational Sea Angling Strategy for England. Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs) has invited consultation on the Strategy from key organisations.
The Strategy recommends the introduction of a sea fishing licence – a decision which caused uproar in Portugal when licences were introduced there last year.

EFTTA’s input to the forum will be critical in creating a united response to the Defra strategy from the tackle trade industry, and  EFTTA President Gregg Holloway and General Manager Janet Doyle, will both be attending.

Said Janet: “The Recreational Sea Angling Strategy for England could have a serious impact on the British fishing tackle industry. The EU regards the issue of sea angling licences as a national matter so we will be supporting the ATA in their official response.”

EFTTA is not directly opposed to the implementation of a sea angling licence if the revenue collected is directed back to the sport, to grow participation and improve habitats and fish stocks. However, in Portugal, a significant percentage of licence money has been given to the commercial fishing sector.

Opposition from anglers in the UK is fierce. Last week, the Whitby Charter Skippers’ Association – an organisation based in the North-east of England, claimed a compulsory rod licence could wipe £2m off the town’s economy.

Paul Kilpatrick, chairman of the WCSA, said: “It’s madness and it would wipe out the angling industry here overnight. It will be all aspects of the industry that will be affected, bait shops, hotels – we have the biggest angling festival in the UK in Whitby this summer. That will be no more. They brought this in Portugal and in the first year alone the bait shops saw their business drop off by 60%.”

The ATA meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 6th, 2008.