Anglers need to stop whingeing, get off their backsides and start fighting for their sport if they want to safeguard its future.
That’s the rallying call being made this week by Martin Salter MP, parliamentary spokesperson for angling, who feels that the apathy displayed by anglers and clubs towards a series of major threats facing fishing could jeopardise its future.
According to Martin, a prime example of this can be found in the cormorant licensing statistics available from Natural England which show that angling clubs have systematically failed to kill as many birds as they are entitled to under law.
He also cites the growing threat posed to angling by the canoeing community, who are fighting for unrestricted access to the nation’s waterways – but it is the issue of cormorant culling licences, which Angling Times fought a five-year campaign to get introduced, which Martin believes anglers need to act upon first.
“Some of us sweated blood in Parliament to make it easier to control cormorants where they were devastating fisheries. Anglers need to stop moaning and work towards making the most of these measures, as there as still far too many parts of the country where cormorants are doing untold damage,” said Martin.
“The situation is better than it used to be before culling licences were introduced, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Clubs should be demanding higher quotas, but as it stands, they’re not even getting near existing ones,” he added.
Another area where Martin believes anglers have failed in their duty to pressure the Government is in counteracting attempts by the British Canoe Union (BCU) to gain unrestricted access to all waterways in the UK.
The BCU’s latest Early Day Motion has already gained the support of 67 MPs, whereas Martin’s own pro-angling amendment to the motion has gained just 11 signatures from MPs.
“It’s ridiculous that a minority sport such as canoeing is able to get the backing of 67 MPs for their campaign to trample over the interests of anglers,” said Martin.
“I need anglers to be knocking MPs’ doors down. It’s why I’m such a strong supporter of the formation of a single unified body to represent anglers – a body which can punch its weight.”