• Angling Trust supports efforts to combat illegal fishing

    The Angling Trust is backing a new information campaign by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to tackle illegal fishing.

    Illegal fishing contributes significantly to the global problem of overfishing, which undermines attempts to manage fish stocks sustainably and threatens the wider marine environment, causing damage to livelihoods and society.

    The campaign was launched this week at Fishmonger’s Hall in Central London with the Angling Trust representing the rights of recreational anglers. Also at the event were key members of the MMO, representatives from the National Federations of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), and many of the regional Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs).

    The campaign aims to raise public awareness about the law and requirements to be registered through the Registered Buyers and Sellers (RBS) scheme in order to legally buy fish caught from licensed, powered, vessels.

    Illegal fishing encompasses a wide variety of activities. At one end of the scale it can consist of enormous quantities of illegal fish landings, such as the £62 million of illegal fish (170,000 tonnes of mackerel and herring) landed and sold from licensed Scottish fishing vessels between 2002 and 2005.

    Or the millions of pounds worth of illegal fish landed into Newlyn over more than six years by a well-known fishing company in the South West before the owners and skippers of the licensed vessels involved were finally prosecuted, in the largest case of its kind to date, in 2009.

    At the other end of the scale illegal fishing can consist of half a dozen fish caught by rod and line from an unlicensed vessel being sold for cash at a local quayside pub, the cumulative impact of which still negatively impacts all those fishermen, both recreational and commercial, who abide by the rules.

    Illegal fishing contributes to the wider problem of the historic mismanagement of our publically-owned fish stocks and since illegal sales are unrecorded, effective fisheries management is compromised.

    The illegal fishing campaign is also backed by the British Hospitality Association, which aims to ensure restaurants make more informed choices in regards to the source of their fish.

    David Mitchell, Marine Campaigns Manager at the Angling Trust, said: “The Angling Trust is supportive of any campaign to deal with illegal fishing, which contributes to overfishing and undermines scientists’, fishery managers’ and policy makers’ attempts to manage publicly-owned fish stocks sustainably.

    “We are disappointed that the focus seems to have already turned towards singling out recreational anglers for the illegal activity of a small number of illegal fishermen selling relatively small amounts of rod and line caught fish from unlicensed vessels. We still see from regular press reports prosecutions for illegal fishing from licensed registered vessels. However, we struggle to recall any reported prosecutions for illegal fishing from an unlicensed vessel.

    “It is important that the focus of the campaign remains about dealing with all sources of illegal fishing rather than targeting illegal rod and line fishing and referring to it as recreational fishing."

    He continued: “Illegal fishing is only one part of a larger campaign to deal with Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing. We look forward to working with the MMO to help tackle illegal fishing and then moving on to address the loopholes in legislation that currently allow the unreported and unrecorded sales of fish, which undermine efforts to manage fish stocks sustainably.”

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  • Big day out for bass at Parliament: MPs back motion over unfair restrictions on sea anglers

    North Cornwall MP Scott Mann today led a three-hour backbench debate in the House of Commons to highlight the unfairness of the current bass measures on recreational sea anglers.

    The debate was entitled: "Conservation of sea bass and the effect of related EU measures on the UK recreational fishing industry.”

    Scott moved the motion which was agreed without dissent:

    “That this House believes that the recent EU restrictions on recreational sea bass fishing are unfair and fail to address the real threat to the future viability of UK sea bass stocks; and calls on the Government to make representations within the Council of the EU on the reconsideration of the imposition of those restrictions.”

    The Angling Trust and their supporters have been lobbying MPs to attend this important parliamentary debate to speak in support of introducing revised measures that reduce bass mortality by restricting rather than increasing harmful commercial harvesting methods such as gill netting and instead promote sustainable methods such as hook and line fishing for both the commercial and recreational sectors.

    Thousands of anglers are now at risk of criminalisation if they try to keep the self-same bass that a netsman is free to kill during the January to June moratorium. The current situation cannot endure. The recreational bag limits are grossly unfair, they make a mockery of the law and fail to acknowledge that recreational sea angling is the most sustainable form of bass fishing which delivers the best economic return.

    Introducing his debate, Scott Mann said:"I lead this debate on sea bass conservation not just as an MP, but as an angler.

    "I see recreational sea anglers and fishermen as part of a collective community. Both need healthy fish stocks. Both activities benefit the economy in different ways and in differing amounts and both have the same passion for catching fish. The current situation we find ourselves in is grossly unfair on anglers. Both fishermen and anglers want to see bass stocks preserved and grown, but one party shouldn’t have to suffer when they actually have very little impact on stocks.

    "We need to have a different approach to this, and I hope my debate will highlight to the government why change is needed. It's only fitting that the source of these qualms for anglers is at the root of problems for fishermen on a wider scale too - the EU."

    "The reaction I’ve had to securing this debate is amazing. Within hours I was getting emails from anglers around the country expressing their thanks and showing their support, and I'm honoured to be fighting for the angling community."

    The vast majority of MPs who spoke were in favour of calls by the Angling Trust and the Bass Anglers' Sportfishing Society (BASS) for bass to be managed primarily as a recreational species alongside a sustainable hook and line commercial fishery. Many newly elected MPs highlighted the importance of recreational fishing and attacked the way that anglers had been treated as opposed to the exemptions handed out to the gill netters.

    Replying for the government, environment minister Rory Stewart conceded that they may have to revisit commercial catch limits next year in order to comply with scientific advice. He also repeated the government's offer to work with recreational angling organisations on a long term management plan for bass which builds on the lessons of the recovery of the striped bass fishery in the USA where a greater proportion of the stock is reserved for recreational fishing.

    Martin Salter, Angling Trust's National Campaigns chief, said: "The Angling Trust has put a huge amount of effort into getting this debate and briefing MPs so that they understand the genuine anger and frustration of recreational sea anglers at the appalling way they were treated last year by the EU fisheries ministers.

    "We welcome the commitment from Rory Stewart on behalf of the government to revisit the commercial catch limits and to work with the recreational sector on a long term plan for bass, learning the lessons of proper professional fishery management from places like Ireland and the USA."

    Nigel Horsman, from BASS, added: "It was an excellent debate and really heartening to see so many MPs making the case for bass to be managed recreationally - a cause that we have been espousing for more than 20 years. The government now need to follow up their warm words with some practical action to rebuild bass stocks and properly recognise the economic value of recreational fishing."

    The Angling Trust will be writing to thank all the MPs who spoke up for angling and to ask them to keep up the pressure on the government ahead of this year's European Council Ministers meeting in December.

     

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  • Ministers agree to work on long term bass management plan as MPs prepareto debate new EU restrictions

    Representatives from the Angling Trust and the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society (BASS) have been battling for bass again this week and challenging both UK ministers and the European Commission over the unfair restrictions that are now in place on recreational anglers and the need for a proper, proportional and effective package of short term conservation measures coupled with a long term management plan that will rebuild bass stocks and deliver the best possible outcomes.

    On Tuesday (Feb 2) supportive MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group - Simon Hart, Charles Walker and Scott Mann - accompanied Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd and Campaigns Chief Martin Salter to meet with Environment Secretary Liz Truss and Fisheries Minister George Eustice.

    The original proposals from the Commission included a complete bass fishing ban for commercial vessels and recreational anglers (including catch and release) in the first half of 2016 and in the second half of 2016 a monthly one tonne catch limit for vessels targeting sea bass and a one fish per day bag limit for recreational anglers.

    The politicians were told that:

    Anglers were pleased to retain catch and release but angered when EU Fisheries Ministers caved in to pressure from commercial fishing interests and granted four month exemptions to commercial hook and line and the highly damaging bass fixed gill net fishery - responsible for 50% of landings – wrongly referred to as “low impact”

    This anger was compounded when ministers sought to portray the decision as good news for bass when in fact the monthly vessel catch limits were increased to 1.3 tonnes at the same time as anglers faced draconian restrictions. Thousands of anglers are now at risk of criminalisation if they try to keep the self-same bass that a netsman is free to kill during the moratorium.

    Recreational anglers were prepared to play their part in what we expected to be a fair, effective and proportionate package of measures that would help rebuild bass stocks but they have instead been singled out for regulation while the commercial nets will continue to take vast quantities of fish, much of which is unrecorded.

    The current situation cannot endure. The recreational bag limits are grossly unfair, make an ass of the law and fail to acknowledge that recreational sea angling is the most sustainable form of bass fishing which delivers the best economic return.

    Ministers accepted the proposal from the Angling Trust and BASS to work with Defra officials on a long term management plan for bass as was first suggested in the 2004 Net Benefits Report by the Cabinet Office. This would include both domestic measures like bass nursery areas and EU wide proposals ahead of the December 2016 Fishing Opportunities meeting.

    Commenting on this potential breakthrough, Martin Salter said: “Fair play to ministers for meeting some of their strongest critics and being willing to work with recreational anglers on trying to secure a long term future for the bass fishery rather than simply responding to short term commercial pressures.

    "Making year on year decisions simply in reaction to ICES advice and EU proposals is no prescription for achieving sensible policy. The current situation is risking ignoring the lessons of previous stock collapses and forcing the introduction of a complete moratorium on all forms of bass fishing which would be a disaster.

    "We must learn from good practice in the USA and elsewhere which delivers agreed resource sharing by species in line with good fishery management advice, best scientific evidence and key economic objectives."

    Long time bass campaigner Malcolm Gilbert said: “There has been a deluge of representations on the bass issue to George Eustice and Defra and in my opinion it's right that we see a more assertive representation of recreational sea anglers' interests. The Minister’s agreement for his officials to work with the Angling Trust and BASS to develop a long term management plan for bass is good news but both the content of such a plan and the willingness to take it forward will ultimately depend on continued political representation of anglers and all the businesses supported by recreational sea angling.”

    Meanwhile in Brussels...

    On Monday (Feb 1) a delegation of representatives from the European Anglers Alliance and European Fishing Tackle Trade Association met with the European Commission in Brussels to discuss measures to conserve bass. The EAA and EFTTA representatives, including David Mitchell from the Angling Trust, expressed the injustice felt by hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers who feel disproportionately impacted by conservation measures agreed in December 2015 by the European Council.

    David Mitchell, Secretary of the EAA Sea Sub-Group said: “The Commission listened to our concerns and took on board what we had to say. I was particularly pleased that a proposal for a monthly, rather than daily, bag limit for recreational fishing will be considered in more detail. We need to work with the Commission to build the case. This would go some way to ensuring anglers felt they were receiving a fairer deal in access to our publicly owned bass stocks.”

    Back in Westminster...

    This week, newly elected North Cornwall MP and keen angler Scott Mann was successful in his bid to secure a three hour backbench debate in the House of Commons entitled: 'Conservation of sea bass and the effect of related EU measures on the UK fishing industry'.

    The Angling Trust and BASS will be supporting Scott in his efforts to highlight the need to create a sustainable recreational bass fishery delivering maximum economic benefit to coastal communities.

    Picture caption: MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group - Simon Hart, Charles Walker and Scott Mann - with Angling Trust Chief Executive Mark Lloyd preparing to battle for bass in the House of Commons

    Useful links:

    Fishing Lines Briefing Note - from the Angling Trust on the recent measures

    Net Benefits Report - Cabinet Office, March 2004

    Bass Management Plan - BASS, October 2004

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  • Angling Trust is awarded grant funding for Sussex angling signs

    The Angling Trust Sussex Marine is one of seven organisations awarded grant funding for designing, printing and setting up signs at prominent angling locations along the Sussex Coast to inform anglers about minimum legal and recommended fish sizes and legally protected/threatened species.

    Sea-Changers is a charity with the mission of raising thousands of pounds for marine conservation charities,

    Tim Macpherson, Angling Trust Director and Sussex Marine Region Organiser says about the grant " this will enable us to implement our plan to provide guidance for anglers, particulaly those visiting the area, so they know what fish they can and cannot take for the table. It will also provide information about minimum sizes. It is all part of our ongoing campaign to protect our endangers and overfisjhed fish stocks".

    The Angling Trust are also in talkjs with the Sussex IFCA about collaborating on the signs to include other fishery regulations.

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  • Angling Trust appoints new directors

    Sussex Marine Region organiser and angling publisher and film maker Tim MAcpherson is one of three new Director level appointments made by the Angling Trust. A statement from the Trust resads as follows:

    Tuesday 21st October 2014

    New Appointments to Angling Trust Board of Directors and Fish Legal Committee

    At the AGM of the Angling Trust earlier in October, and at the AGM of Fish Legal on the same day, the members of each organisation respectively voted almost unanimously to appoint two new Directors to the Angling Trust Board, one new Trustee to the Fish Legal Committee and to support changes to the rules of both organisations. Nigel Haywood and Tim Macpherson have been appointed to the Angling Trust Board, while Tim Goode has joined the Fish Legal Committee (biographies below).

    Jim Glasspool, Mike Heylin, David Moore and Terry Fell all retired as Angling Trust Board members at the AGM, but were appointed as Vice Presidents of the Angling Trust to reflect the unique role that they all played in bringing together the many founding organisations as part of the unification of angling that happened in 2009 to form the Angling Trust & Fish Legal. Terry Fell has also stepped down as a Fish Legal Committee member.

    George Stephenson, Chairman of the Angling Trust said: “The vision, enthusiasm and bloody-minded determination of the Angling Trust’s founding Directors to succeed created a very impressive platform from which we can hopefully expand and improve the world of fish and fishing in our country. I’m delighted that they will become the inaugural Vice Presidents of the Angling Trust, and we will no doubt continue to seek their wisdom and advice. On behalf of the members of the Angling Trust I would like to thank them unconditionally for all they have done to unify angling, as unpaid volunteers, over the past years.”

    Dick Vincent, Chairman of Fish Legal said: “I am very pleased that Tim Goode has been elected by the members to the Fish Legal Committee. I’m sure that his skills and experience will be very valuable to us, particularly with regard to management of investment funds. He joins a Committee which comprises a number of very committed and knowledgeable volunteers who support the work of Fish Legal. I would like to thank Terry Fell for his distinguished service on the Committee since 2009 and wish him all the best for his retirement!”

    The short biographies of the new Directors and Committee Members are provided below.

    Biographies

    NIGEL HAYWOOD (Angling Trust)

    Retired after 30 years in the Diplomatic Service, most recently serving as Ambassador to Estonia; Consul-General in Basra; and Governor of the Falkland Islands. He has negotiated effectively at the highest political levels and has broad media experience.

    Nigel has been a sea, coarse and game angler for more than 50 years, and a life member of the ACA/Angling Trust for nearly 30 years, serving on the ACA Council from 1989 to 1996. He has written for a variety of angling publications, both print and online, and contributed to Merlin Unwin’s “The One that Got Away”.

    A keen saltwater fly fisherman, Nigel is also a member of various trout syndicates as well as BASS, the Wild Trout Trust, the Civil Service Angling Society and the Frome, Piddle and West Dorset Fisheries Association. Nigel is the Honorary President of the Golden Scale Club.

    TIM MACPHERSON (Angling Trust)

    Has 15 years’ experience as a senior executive in two major media companies, as a profit centre head, publisher, event director and company director. His experience covers PR, marketing, event organising, advertising, digital media, design, sales and advertising across digital and print media.

    Tim runs digital publishing outlets for anglers, creating and delivering content for anglers in Sussex including newsletters, web content, video and other assets.

    Tim has been an angler, in all disciplines, from age 11 although he spends most of his time sea angling in Sussex and Cornwall. He is a member of four Sussex Angling Clubs and spent a brief time working for the Trust after it launched.

    TIM GOODE (Fish Legal)

    Has over 30 years’ experience in the banking and investment industry and has worked for a number of major banks. Over the past 12 years, Tim has established an FSA authorised boutique investment bank specializing in finance, debt covering and advisory matters for clients in the UK, Europe, the US and Asia.

    Tim holds a number of Non-Executive roles including that as Chair of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (UK),the UK arm of the global conservation coalition, through which he is involved in fundraising and negotiations with other parties including government.

    Tim is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Corporate Treasurers and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

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