Angling Trust Slams Natural England for Delays with Cormorant and Goosander Licences

The Angling Trust issued a formal complaint in September to Natural England for its failure to issue renewal licences for the control of cormorants and goosanders by the 1st of September, as required by its own standards of service. Natural England has apologised to the Trust and promised to issue all outstanding licences by the end of October, now that it has hired more staff to do so.

The Angling Trust received a large number of complaints from its members about the delays.  Many members contacted the Licensing Unit in Bristol and reported receiving a variety of excuses for the delay from ‘under staffed’ to ‘licensing of great crested newts is taking priority’, although Natural England deny that newt licences were involved.

Picture credit: Mick Vogel

Picture credit: Mick Vogel

At one point, the problem became so acute that staff were apparently refusing to take calls on the subject.  The delays prevented many fishery managers from controlling cormorants and goosanders taking fish during low water levels in a dry September, which impacted on the capital and amenity value of many fisheries.

The Angling Trust's Chief Executive and Head of Freshwater have a meeting scheduled with Natural England Chairman Andrew Sells in November and will press him to ensure that the organisation improves its performance.

In its letter responding to the Trust’s formal complaint, Natural England said: 'I confirm that in recent months we have faced challenges in meeting our targets and although we have taken steps to address this, there are residual issues to resolve. A number of factors have combined to cause these delays and these include staffing issues as well as changes in how cases are now assessed.'

The spokesperson continued: “We started to address these delays by recruiting additional staff during September and appreciate this is poor consolation for the people you represent. However we would seek to reassure you that we are now assessing the outstanding cases (in order of the date that the return was sent to us) with the aim of issuing all decisions before the end of October.'

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, said: 'The Angling Trust welcomed the new arrangements announced by the government for tackling cormorant and goosander predation through area based licences and the support for our new Fishery Management Advisors to help fisheries implement a range of measures to deter and control predators. However, these completely unacceptable delays by Natural England with the licensing process have been a backwards step and have undermined the new system we worked so hard to put in place. 

'Whilst it is good news that more staff have been recruited and outstanding applications will now be processed by the end of the month we still believe that the whole process remains unnecessarily bureaucratic and restrictive.  We will be raising the poor performance of Natural England with Ministers and pressing for action to cut through the red tape. We need common sense measures that are cost-effective and deliver greater protection for fisheries which are suffering from excessive predation. Cormorants are not endangered any more, but many fish populations are severely threatened.'

National Fishing Month 2015 - Fabulous fun so far

Since it began on 19th July, National Fishing Month (NFM) 2015 has proved to be a major attraction at events throughout the country. It was launched at ‘Parklife’ in Milton Country Park, Cambridge, on a gloriously sunny day where nearly 90 people tried angling for the first time - even Counsellor Sue Humphries had a go. The event was staged in partnership with Cambridge Sports Lakes Trust, and it allowed visitors to explore a variety of ways to improve their health and wellbeing, as well as trying a range of sports (including fishing) to inspire them to become more active.  


The highlight of second weekend of NFM was the inaugural ‘Carp in the Park’ event, held at Billing Aquadrome, Northampton and very well organised by David Hall Publishing Ltd.  The venue proved to be superb and, despite the inclement weather, nearly 100 people were coached in angling over the two days. Many of them had come camping for the weekend and did not expect the wonderful bonus of being offered free fishing lessons by trained, nationally-accredited angling coaches.


The traditional NFM showcase event took place at the CLA Game Fair, held this year at Harewood House, Yorkshire. Over 200 lakeside coarse coaching sessions were delivered by members of the Professional Anglers Association (PAA), and their pupils had fabulous fun catching carp to more than 18lbs! On the Angling Trust stand, junior fly coaching run by the Game Angling Instructors’ Association (GAIA) was equally popular. The National Fishing Month coaching area was visited by a number of dignitaries and celebrities including Rory Stewart, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DEFRA, who thanked everyone for their hard work in raising the awareness of the health and social inclusion benefits of angling.

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Feedback from people already has clearly indicated the joy of participants at learning the angling basics under expert guidance: ‘What a brilliant session which my son really enjoyed – his first experience of fishing and he will definitely try it again’; ‘A great experience for the children. The coaches were super and helped them catch fish;’, ‘A fantastic introduction to fishing. My son caught five fish and both John and Adam were very patient and kind with him. He’s now asking where our nearest river is (to fish!).’


Thanks to the headline sponsorship support from tackle manufacturers Daiwa, Pure Fishing and Leeda – all members of NFM organisers the Angling Trades Association – National Fishing Month continues to be an overwhelming success. Along with the support received from the Environment Agency, the Angling Trust, Angling Cymru, the PAA and GAIA, NFM 2015 is maintaining its enviable position as a leading participation initiative attracting thousands of new people to the sport of angling.


There are still hundreds of other events across the country throughout August, and they are open to everyone. To find a NFM event near to you, visit www.nationalfishingmonth.com

  

 

A ‘Brilliant’ New Website Helps Anglers Find the Perfect Fishing Spot

A new mobile-friendly interactive website has been launched today (9th June) to help anglers, and would-be anglers, find the best spot to fish.

Fishinginfo.co.uk provides everything needed for a fishing trip, from searching for fishing spots to what the weather is doing and live water levels to information on buying a rod licence and where to buy kit.

With so much information available to anglers, Fishinginfo.co.uk provides a vital source of reference to all things fishing within a single website. It also gives information on tackle shops, angling clubs and coaches. Free registration allows anglers to receive all kinds of useful information, save their favourites and build up a series of links, which will help them to make the most of their day’s fishing.

Produced by the Angling Trust in partnership with the Environment Agency, Met Office and Post Office, Fishinginfo.co.uk is part of a major nationwide drive to increase participation in angling.

Launching on 9th June 2015Fishinginfo.co.uk will initially be fronted by the popular comic actor Paul Whitehouse.  Paul, an Angling Trust Ambassador, was very keen to get involved, even reprising the ‘Brilliant Kid’ character made famous by the hugely successful BBC comedy series ‘The Fast Show’.

A special launch film starring Paul as the ‘Brilliant Kid’ talking about how ‘Fantastic’ fishing is will be available from the launch date at http://youtube.com/fishinginfoukat. Advertising in the national angling press plus a social media campaign will support the launch.

Paul Whitehouse commented:

'It was a pleasure to get involved and put something back into a sport that I have loved since I was a kid. I enjoyed playing ‘Brilliant Kid’ again in what will probably be his last hurrah. I hope that anglers and fans of the ‘Fast Show’ will enjoy the film, If we can encourage any more people to take up fishing then it will have been worth it.'

Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd commented:

'We are delighted to be launching Fishinginfo.co.uk. This new website will really make a difference for anglers looking to find new places to fish or getting back into fishing after taking some time out due to the pressures of family life.  We urge all anglers, clubs and fisheries to use the update feature on the site to ensure that information is correct.  We also want to make buying a rod licence as quick and simple as possible so our direct link to the Post Office website should help with that.

Our launch is made even more special in that Paul Whitehouse is fronting our campaign. Paul is a very keen angler who supports the vital work carried out by the Trust. We hope our ‘Brilliant Kid’ film will appeal to anglers and non-anglers alike, attracting a wider audience and growing participation in the sport we all love.'

Sarah Chare, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said:

'The Fishinginfo website is a fantastic new resource for all anglers and those wanting to get started. We are really pleased to have contributed to this initiative – another great example of how rod licence money goes back to benefit those who go fishing. Fishing is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors, has great health, welfare and educational benefits and it is important to our economy.  A coarse and trout rod licence is only £27 for the year and it is easy to buy online from the Post Office website which can be also be accessed through FishingInfo.co.uk.'

Fishinginfo.co.uk is designed for use on mobiles and tablets as well as your home or work computer.

Election 2015 - Where the parties stand on Angling

Party Manifesto analysis – by the Angling Trust


With the outcome of the General Election on a knife edge and polling just a few days away, the Angling Trust has completed a review of what the main political parties are offering to do for fish and fishing. A trawl through the manifestos of the Conservative, Labour, LibDem, UKIP and Green parties has revealed strengths and weaknesses in them all.

Last month the Angling Trust published a comprehensive Manifesto for Angling and invited the five main parties to sign up and comment. Labour was the first to sign and Shadow Fisheries Minister Angela Smith said:
'Labour is proud to have a strong tradition of support for Angling.  We recognise not only the economic contribution that anglers makes but also the role they play up and down the country in working to improve our water and marine environment. The manifesto for angling contains some positive ideas for how the next Labour Government can both improve our natural environment and support Britain's most popular sport. We worked constructively with the Angling Trust when Labour was last in Government and we look forward to doing so again.'

However, Labour's own environmental policy is one of the weaker on offer and their own manifesto makes almost no reference to fish or fishing.

The Conservatives have been keen to point out their record in government with new controls on cormorants and support for angling projects. They did agree, following a meeting between the Trust and the Prime Minister, to include a promise to deliver a sustainable bass fishery. The Tories are also committed to concluding important projects like the Thames Tideway Tunnel to improve water quality.

Whilst they've yet to sign up to the Manifesto for Angling the Conservatives' most prominent angling MP and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group George Hollingbery said:
'Angling is one of the biggest participant activities in the UK and important to the country at many different levels.  The Angling Manifesto hits all the right notes:  we know how beneficial angling can be to those that are involved and should encourage more people to pick up a rod; with so many people involved already, we know that a number of areas of government policy should always recognise this very large interest group; and we know that angling is a force for good when it comes to the environment and the health of our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans.'

As expected the LibDem and Green manifestos are strong on the need for greater environmental protection with commitments to reduce water abstractions through wider water metering and construction of new reservoirs. However, neither party has anything to say about angling and has not yet responded to the Angling Trust's manifesto.

UKIP has the most comprehensive manifesto section on fishing of all the political parties but is exclusively focussed on the marine environment with strong support for continued exploitation of sea fish stocks by the UK commercial sector. They support measures to conserve bass stocks but oppose the three fish bag limit on recreational sea anglers. UKIP have acknowledged, but are yet to respond formally to the Manifesto for Angling.

Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd said: 'We are pleased to have secured strong responses from both Labour and Conservative parties ahead of what will be a finely balanced election result. This means that anglers can be pretty confident that we will continue to receive good support from whoever is the major party in the next government. However, there is still a long way to go before we can get all politicians to recognise just how important it is for the nation’s 3 million anglers to look probably look after the rivers, streams, lakes and coastal fisheries upon which our sport depends.'

Illegal Fishing Lands Angler With £525 Bill and Criminal Record

A Knutsford man found guilty of fishing illegally at a mere has been fined £400.

On 9 November 2014 Joshua Egerton, 19, from 12 Churchfields, Knutsford was caught and later charged for illegally fishing at Booths Mere, a private fishery managed by Angling Trust members, Altrincham and District Angling Club.

Egerton appeared at Macclesfield Magistrates on 15 April 2015 and was found guilty for 'unlawfully attempting to take fish in water in which there was a private right of fishery'. He was also found guilty as he 'fished or took fish otherwise than in accordance with a licence by means of a rod and line'.

Egerton was he was fined £400 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £40 and pay costs of £85.00 to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Cheshire Police Wildlife Crime Officer PC Jim Day said: 'Police are taking positive action to support both the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to tackle illegal fishing in the UK.'

Dilip Sarkar Angling Trust National Enforcement Manager said: 'This is an excellent result and a great example of what we are all collectively achieving through the Fisheries Enforcement Campaign: raising awareness within the police service and beyond to the wider public, increasing confidence and intelligence - and all involved working together.

Cheshire Police have done a first class job with this - as too have CPS and the magistrates. This sends a very strong message out to would-be poachers: persist and you will get caught, be punished and have a criminal record. Times have changed - and all responsible, law-abiding, anglers welcome this.'

Permit to pollute on River Lambourn raises fears that new housebuilding will cause national decline in water quality

The Environment Agency has caused outrage amongst local campaigners in West Berkshire by issuing a discharge permit which will allow poor quality effluent from a new housing development to be discharged into the River Lambourn, a precious chalk stream that is famed for its wildlife and fly fishing and protected as a Special Area of Conservation, the highest designation.  An alternative option of discharging the sewage from the new development into the main sewer for more treatment to higher standards was rejected due to higher cost.

The Angling Trust is encouraging all anglers throughout the UK to get behind the local campaign and to sign the national 38 degrees petition, not only to protect this particular river, but also because this looks set to be a national issue with all the political parties pledging to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in the next parliament.  The Trust believes that all new housing developments should employ the best available technology to treat sewage and minimise water use to avoid untold damage to the nation’s water environment, as set out in the Blueprint for Water, supported by 16 national organisations.

The Trust is writing to Environment Agency to challenge its decision to allow inferior quality 'secondary treated sewage' to be discharged directly into a chalk stream.  It is also writing to Natural England asking for its assessment of the impact of the discharge on the river’s Special Area of Conservation status.

A recent assessment of waterbodies by the Environment Agency found that just 17% of waterbodies are in good ecological status and the regulator’s latest draft river basin management plans do not project any significant improvements in the near future.  The decision to issue a discharge consent on the River Lambourn runs the risk of causing deterioration of this river, which would be illegal under the EU Water Framework Directive and, if it is indicative of national policy, a steady decline in water quality throughout the country as new homes are built.

The Lambourn is one of a globally-rare group of chalk streams, 85% of which are in England.  The Angling Trust has highlighted the plight of these rivers through its Chalkstream Charter, supported by the Salmon and Trout Association, WWF-UK, The Wildlife Trusts and The Rivers Trust along with local fisheries and river groups from Dorset to Yorkshire.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: 'It beggars belief that the Environment Agency has approved this permit to pollute when it is struggling to achieve any progress nationally with reducing the levels of phosphate and other pollutants in our rivers.  The Agency has a duty to maintain, improve and develop fisheries; it does not have a duty to increase the profits of housing developers.  If the regulator takes decisions like this all over the country, the wave of new housebuilding we are likely to see in the next five years could cause massive damage to the water environment, the health of fisheries and the quality of fishing for decades to come.'

Angling Trust National Campaigns Co-ordinator Martin Salter, who regularly fishes the Lambourn added: 'I hope that local politicians in Newbury, from Richard Benyon right through to the local district councillors will not use this disgraceful decision by the EA to sneak through a completely unacceptable planning application. All public representatives have a duty to protect the environment and this is a chance for them to stand up and be counted.'  

William Daniel, Angling Trust Ambassador and Managing Director of Famous Fishing, which has leased the fishing rights on the Weston stretch of the Lambourn for the past 20 years, commented: 'Yet again the Environment Agency has shown itself to be unfit for purpose and in breach of its duty to protect the aquatic environment.  Instead of insisting on the original, perfectly viable and less damaging alternative available (i.e. connecting to the sewage main), the EA is now endorsing and permitting the pollution of the Lambourn, a river so precious that it merits the very highest level of protection in Europe. It is clearly not getting that protection.  We have to stop this becoming a precedent, so I urge everyone who cares to sign the petition.'

Rod Licence Money Helps 17 Clubs And Fisheries Improve Facilities For Anglers

The new Fishery Improvement Fund, administered by the Angling Trust and funded with rod licence income from the Environment Agency, has made funding awards to 3 fisheries, 13 clubs and 1 angling project totalling £65,000 to improve facilities for angling throughout England. 

The total value of the funded projects, including match funding and in-kind contributions, is nearly £200,000, all of which will contribute to the delivery of the National Angling Strategy.  15 of the projects are coarse angling oriented, including one benefiting canal anglers, with 2 club projects improving access to wild trout streams in North Yorkshire and in Devon.  The funded projects are expected to generate in excess of 17,000 additional fishing visits/ trips per year and 7 projects plan to install accessible pegs for disabled users and families.

Launched in January, the fund received a huge response, with more than 200 applications.  Due to the success of the scheme, plans are now being put in place for another round in the summer of 2015.

Individual highlights include:

  • creating an entirely new angling venue in a residential area;
  • money to purchase storage facilities for a canal-based club;
  • fish refuges and other measures to control cormorant predation;
  • otter-proof fencing and gates at a club stillwater;
  • restoring a traditional tench fishery;
  • opening a disused stretch of the Severn to angling;
  • Improving access to brown trout river fishing for elderly, beginners and military veterans.

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal said: 'The Environment Agency and the Angling Trust hope to be able to repeat the Fund in spring 2015 if there is sufficient rod licence income available to pay for it.  Thank you to all the organisations that applied - it clearly demonstrates the demand across the country for better facilities and the desire of clubs and fisheries to make these happen, through their commitment of match funding.'

Rick Warner, the Angling Trust’s National Angling Strategy Manager said: 'We plan to streamline the process to make it easier to submit an application and will be delivering workshops around the country to help clubs, fisheries and angling projects with their funding bids.  We will contact previous applicants who met all the criteria and invite them to apply again at that time.'

Sarah Chare, Environment Agency Head of Fisheries, said: 'We were delighted with the number of applications the Angling Trust received. There are some really good projects planned, from new fish refuges and revitalising disused stretches of river to improving access and creating new angling venues. This is just one way in which the Environment Agency uses rod licence money for fisheries and it is great to see it go further by working in partnership.'

Buy A Rod Licence Today

You can buy your rod licence online from the Post Office at www.postoffice.co.uk/rod-fishing-licence, at your local Post Office or by phoning 0344 800 5386.

Buying a rod licence online from the Post Office website is easy, and saves both time and administration costs, meaning that more of the income can be spent on improving fish stocks and fishing.

Operation CLAMP DOWN 3 - Coming For The Close Season

Thames Valley Police Officers, Environment Agency staff and West Thames Volunteer Bailiffs on a joint patrol supporting Operation CLAMP DOWN 2 in 2014.

Thames Valley Police Officers, Environment Agency staff and West Thames Volunteer Bailiffs on a joint patrol supporting Operation CLAMP DOWN 2 in 2014.

Throughout the coarse close season, the Voluntary Bailiff Service (VBS), Environment Agency (EA) and various police forces throughout South East England will again be working in partnership to target illegal fishing on rivers in SE England during Operation CLAMP DOWN 3.

People who fish illegally are poachers. The police understand that poachers are often involved in wider criminality, including theft and drugs and that several million anglers represent a valuable source of rural intelligence. This is why it is increasingly important for all stakeholders to work together, sharing intelligence and mounting joint operations accordingly.

The VBS remains a pilot project in SE England, but all anglers throughout England can contribute to the process, regardless of location, by reporting offences in progress or any information either to the EA on 0800 80 70 60 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The Angling Trust's National Enforcement Manager, retired police officer Dilip Sarkar MBE, said: 'The VBS exists to principally support the EA in the fight to protect fish and fisheries, and we are delighted to have the police's support in this endeavour. Likewise, if we can help the police in the fight against Rural and Wildlife Crime - we will.'

Adrian Brightley, VBS Project Manager for the Environment Agency, said: 'It is great to see everyone working together like this - which sends out a powerful message to offenders. We are all very keen for this to continue.'