The Angling Trust, as the national representative body for all recreational fishing, has once again joined forces with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to fly the flag at this year’s party political conferences at a series of Rural Receptions.
Delegates, MPs, ministers and shadow ministers at the recent LibDem, Labour and Conservative party conferences heard Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd and Head of Freshwater Mark Owen highlight a range of current issues affecting fish and fisheries on which anglers want to see political action. These included:
- The Save Our Salmon campaign - with stocks at an all-time low the Angling Trust wants to see ministers outlaw or buy out all mixed stock nets.
- Grave concerns about Severn Estuary tidal lagoons - the impacts are unknown, but could be very serious for salmon, sea trout, eels and marine fish.
- Agricultural pollution and soil management – this is now a bigger polluter than sewage and our recent Judicial Review with WWF is about the failure to tackle agricultural pollution in protected areas as required by the European Water Framework Directive.
- Concerns about fracking - with government U turns on restrictions agreed previously to keep it out of protected and water sensitive areas.
- Marine fish stocks in crisis - we have worked with government to get 30% reduction in commercial catches of bass, but the scientists recommend an 80% cut. More must be done to sort out the rules on inshore netting and give greater protection to estuaries.
Guest speakers at the events included former Labour Shadow Fisheries Minister Angela Smith MP and the current Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment Liz Truss MP.
Former MP Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator with the Angling Trust, who attended the Conservative Conference said: 'Our presence at the major party conferences each year is an important way of getting the message across to politicians and decision-makers that the angling community is united, well organised and will be championing the causes of clean water, improved habitat and better conservation policies irrespective of who is currently in power. The fact that the Environment Secretary agreed to be our guest speaker in Manchester shows that both shooting and angling are taken seriously at the top levels of government.'
Chief Executive of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal Mark Lloyd said: 'With three million participants delivering four billion pounds in economic benefit and over 40,000 jobs, angling is clearly very important for the economy. It is also important for the well- being of millions of people, for their mental health, their connection with the natural world and for strong communities. Millions of anglers quite rightly want their elected representatives at all levels to protect their interests and the water environment upon which our sport depends.'