Should unified angling body prompt changes?


One angler, one licence: That’s the call being made this week by those who want a new, independent, well-funded and fully inclusive governing body for angling. The proposals include:

● A single rod licence covering all coarse, sea and game fishing
● An increase in the cost of a licence, followed by a price freeze for five years
● The Environment Agency to ring-fence a percentage of licence revenue to fund the new governing body
● That new body to unify and represent all anglers

They highlight divisions between those who believe the new organisation should be run through members’ subscriptions and those who want to take it further and involve every licence-paying angler. The debate heated up as angling’s old governing bodies enter into the final stages of a unification process which should see the emergence of a single, new organisation, the details of which are yet to be announced.

“Unity has to mean exactly that – unity across all angling disciplines. Many anglers are concerned that the present drive for unity actually excludes rather than includes the majority of them,” claimed Carp Society chairman Bill Ward, the man behind the proposals.

“I believe most anglers will be willing to pay for a fully representative and influential organisation run in the interests of the majority, a factor being overlooked in present efforts to form a whole from the sum of the same old tired parts,” he added.

Numbers of members and funding will both prove key to the organisation’s success. It is argued by some that licence fee money or, more crucially, access to the EA’s database of licence-paying anglers, are the only sure routes to securing proper funding and achieving full representation of English and Welsh anglers.

Martin Salter MP, a staunch supporter of the unity process, agreed up to a point. “It’s still early days with respect to the current moves towards angling unity,” said Parliament’s angling spokesperson. “A levy on the rod licence to raise money for the new organisation would require primary legislation and isn’t likely in the near future. But EA boss Dafydd Evans has intimated to me it might be possible to ring-fence EA funding to support some of the new body’s work.

“I’d agree that, in the long-term, access to the rod-licence database will prove key to any organisation wanting to enter into dialogue with most of the anglers in England and Wales,” he added.