This gathering of suited men isn’t just another talking shop for fishing - it is the most important angling meeting for 100 years.
Staged at London’s historic Fishmongers Hall, it brought together a spectrum of famous names ¬ from world champions to environmental campaigners as the sport united behind the launch of the Angling Trust.
The organisation, which embraces all fishing disciplines under one umbrella for the first time, will change the course of our sport forever.
Fishing has responded to calls for one voice by delivering a body that will protect the sport from attack, promote fishing to a new generation, and ensure we have great venues and a wealth of healthy stock.
The man charged with fronting the Trust is Mark Lloyd, former head of the ACA, and he has set a target of 100,000 members by 2011 ¬ more than any UK angling organisation has ever boasted.
“Fishing isn’t just a hobby ¬ it’s a way of life. We need angling to be recognised and respected because it is a major industry. It is time anglers united and we began to punch our weight.”
According to statistics, the sport accounts for 37,000 jobs with a value of
£3.5 billion, far outweighing the commercial fishing sector, which has boasted thousands of column inches in the national press promoting its plight.
The Angling Trust has pledged to campaign for:
- Protection of angling
- Increased Government and Environment Agency support
- Control of nuisance predators
These key campaigns will see the body open negotiations with the EA to attempt to secure a proportion of the rod licence revenue to help support its work.
The Trust will also deliver angling education and more coaches, while fighting pollution, declining stocks and access restrictions.
Martin Salter MP, Labour spokesman for angling, said: “This is an historic moment ¬ we can no longer just rely on a few MPs who go fishing to give the sport a voice ¬ we need a professional body.”
Individual membership for the AT already stands at 2,500 at a cost of £20 per annum. Sliding scale club memberships are available, as well as membership of Fish Legal, which offers the same benefits as the now-defunct ACA.
Individual benefits are set to grow as the Trust expands, but a Fish for Free points system is already available, offering the chance to get free tackle or even a national rod licence.