Britain’s best known angler has refused to attend what has been labelled ‘one of the most important meetings in the history of angling’, stating ‘it will achieve nothing’.
John Wilson, star of TV’s ‘Go Fishing’, says he will not take part in the Angling and Fisheries Summit chaired by Natural Environment and Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, dubbing the event a ‘whitewash’.
With presentations from the Angling Trust, the Environment Agency and the Angling Development Board, the Angling Summit aims to build a closer relationship between the sport and the government to tackle key issues.
But John is in no doubt that the topics on the agenda will fail to address otter and cormorant predation, adding: “I have no interest in being a part of the summit. It’s a meeting for a meeting’s sake. I fear it will achieve nothing, as half the people leading the discussions don’t even go fishing.
“Before his party came to power Richard Benyon promised myself and the Predator Action Group an intimate meeting about the damage being caused by cormorants and otters, but now they’re in government this is all the sport is offered – quite frankly it’s an insult!”
The meeting in London on March 21 will be attended by 150 delegates from angling clubs, associations and organisations, and John isn’t the only one that has refused to attend.
Angling Times columnist Martin Bowler said: “I refuse to sit in a room with people who know nothing about fishing but presume to tell me about it. Keith Arthur is more in touch with average anglers and speaks to more anglers on a weekly basis than anyone else in this sport. Why hasn’t he been invited?
“In the past I’ve tried my hardest to get meetings with government and fight issues such as cormorants and otters, but after this I really feel like giving up altogether.”
Angling Times contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) asking Richard Benyon what he hopes will be achieved, and got back this statement from a spokesperson: “We’re keen to maintain our good relationship with the angling community and this summit will allow us to explore ways in which people can realise the benefits of angling while preserving healthy fisheries for future generations.”