The Conservative Party has vowed to call upon star names like John Wilson and Martin Bowler to help shape the future of fishing if it wins the next General Election.
In a move aimed at connecting with ‘the man on the bank’, Shadow Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon announced plans for the creation of an angling ‘think tank’ during a top-level meeting with some of the sport’s biggest names.
Go Fishing star John and AT columnist Martin were joined by Mid Kent Fisheries boss Chris Logsdon and top all-rounder Tim Norman at Theale in Berkshire for a discussion aimed at changing the way that angling policy is made in this country.
“It is vital that anglers are listened to,” said Richard Benyon, who is MP for Newbury.
“And what better people to listen to than those on the frontline, those people out on the coal face every single day?
“Anglers like John Wilson and Martin Bowler are clearly trusted by the fishing community and it surely makes more sense to listen to them than it does faceless academics or scientists.”
On the agenda during the 90-minute meeting was a range of topics, with cormorant and otter predation forming the mainstay of debate. Other issues included the role of the Environment Agency, rod licences for sea anglers, water quality and the positive impact of fishing on society.
“I was surprised at the level of knowledge and passion these men brought to the table,” said Richard after the discussion. “I had some idea of the issues affecting angling, but not the extent of the problems. I look forward to meeting the likes of John Wilson and Martin Bowler on a regular basis if we are in government.”
Both John and Martin left with a similarly positive outlook.
“This was a unique and historical meeting,” said John. “It’s the first time a shadow minister has sought the advice of anglers and it bodes well for the future.”
Martin added: “Anglers have always wanted to be listened to. Now it seems we have someone with influence and power willing to take our opinions on board.”
Mid Kent Fisheries boss Chris Logsdon was equally pleased with the outcome.
“Richard listened to our concerns and we now have a platform to express our views,” said Chris.
Tim Norman added: “I was impressed. Anglers should be reassured that if the Tories get in, they are pro angling.”