MPs tell UK government: Don't overlook sea angling, its worth £1 billion
The £1 billion contribution to the UK economy from recreational sea angling "has been overlooked and under-represented for too long" an influential committee of MPs has said.
The sport should have a fair say in the management of the nation's inshore fisheries and a sea angling unit set up within the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as soon as possible.
The report from the House of Commons Environment Select Committee* is the latest in a series of reports and ministerial statements highlighting the contribution the country's million sea anglers make to the economy, and urging that they should be fully involved in the management of coastal fisheries.
The committee set up its inquiry to examine what had been done about proposals in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit report last March into the future of British fishing. This was the report which first revealed the surprisingly high value of recreational sea angling in Britain.
Three recreational organisations - the Bass Anglers' Sportfishing Society (BASS), National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) and the Sea Anglers Conservation Network (SACN) - submitted written evidence to the inquiry and gave oral evidence at a joint session.
Ted Tuckerman chairman of the NFSA, said the report showed that parliament and Whitehall now fully recognised the economic, political and social importance of recreational sea angling.
"For 30 years governments refused to accept that proper management of sea fisheries would sharply increase the number of anglers who fish them and the £1 billion subsidy-free contribution they make to the economy", he said
"With all this now changing it is vital for sea anglers, in clubs and individually, to join us to keep the pressure on government to stop commercial decimation of fishing grounds so that many more people can enjoy recreational angling."
The select committee said the UK's inshore fisheries (up to six miles from the shore) were still managed under laws passed in 1888. The economic impact of recreational fishing was now clearly very significant and, in many cases, superior to that from commercial fishing.
Julian Fox, a prominent member of BASS and a financial consultant, told the MPs he believed recreational angling was the growth area in fishing, for the least amount of public money spent and should operate on equal terms to commercial fishing in the management of fisheries. "In view of the relative values [of commercial fishing and recreational angling] anglers should perhaps be in the majority"
The MPs said anglers wanted sea fishery committees to be "substantially
re-jigged" so there was a broader stakeholder involvement and more recreational representation. "Ideally, however, the NFSA told us it wanted the Environment Agency - which currently has responsibility for freshwater angling – to take over responsibility altogether from the sea fisheries committees."