The drive to form a single unified body to govern angling will continue full steam ahead, despite the Salmon and Trout Association’s decision this week to pull out of the process.
The shock announcement, which will see the ST&A lose the £10,000 ‘deposit’ it invested in the initiative, was made after bosses at the game fishing organisation opted to assume charity status.
Because charities are not allowed to offer the kind of comprehensive member services unity’s bosses intend to provide for anglers, the body had no option but to withdraw from negotiations. Far from causing the collapse of the ambitious plans for a single governing body, the century-old S&TA’s decision to withdraw was met by relief in some quarters – its repeated criticism of livebaiting and groundbaiting were proving increasingly contentious with coarse anglers.
But the news left tens of thousands of game fishermen questioning where they stood as far as representation and the other inevitable benefits of unity were concerned. Mark Lloyd, boss of the Anglers’ Conservation Association, was quick to allay any fears.
“The fact that the S&TA can no longer be part of the new united body changes nothing,” insisted Mark. “We are on track to create a single governing body and representative organisation for all coarse, game and sea anglers.
“The new charitable S&TA will join others in performing a useful role in working for the protection of salmonid fisheries. The united angling body will work closely with these organisations, but it will represent all anglers’ interests,” said Mark.
S&TA boss Paul Knight would have brought a vast amount of knowledge and experience, especially with regard to conservation, to the body. But Paul believes that angling’s future political battles will be focused on the environment and angling’s ability to present properly balanced scientific arguments demonstrating that anglers’ conservation efforts benefit the public and society as a whole.
“The Salmon and Trout Association has always been about the environment first and fishing second. Without clean and healthy aquatic habitats we would have no fish to fish for,” explained Paul.
“We are probably the first ever overtly lobbying country sports organisation to ever achieve charity status. And we believe we can campaign more effectively and be more successful in attracting sponsorship if we are a charity,” he added.