Keith Arthur: These excuses just won't wash

I don’t know what planet AT emailer Malcolm Swinfen (AT September 15) is from, but his excuses for not joining the Angling Trust show he’s not a regular reader.
Before he stumps up his £20, he wants to hear ‘the voice of angling’ speak about cormorant and otter predation and the ‘wholesale removal of fish for food, attributed to non-English people’.

Let’s take a look at the facts: Under extreme pressure from NAFAC (now part of the Angling Trust), Martin Salter MP managed to get the number of licences for ‘controlling’ cormorants greatly increased. The requests for licences failed to reach that total. Even worse, in many instances those fisheries that were issued with licences failed to keep their part of the bargain by sending in returns of birds ‘controlled’.

Otter predation was the subject of much discussion earlier this year. The Trust was involved in meetings regarding otter numbers and was assured that no ‘new’ otters had been released since 1999, although injured animals had been returned to the wild.

Of course, if angling had an effective governing ¬ I prefer representative ¬body pre-1999, maybe it would have been involved in discussions before a unilateral decision was made to reintroduce what was obviously too many creatures into the wild.

Angling didn’t have that representation then because of the disparate groups of angling bodies. It now has one body unable to punch its weight because people like Mr Swinfen can find something he thinks better suited to removing £20 of his disposable income.

Finally, the removal of fish for food comment: I’ll bet a pound to a pinch of snuff that he wasn’t one of the first 66 to respond to the consultation document on the EA website regarding new national byelaws. He may have taken the trouble to respond to the report in Angling Times, but there are still at least 50,000 readers who didn’t. The Angling Trust was a prime mover in forcing the new Marine Bill to consider changes to the byelaws.

Malcolm, you’ll have to think up some more excuses for not joining now ¬ or put your hand in your pocket.