The future of angling looks brighter than ever this week with the signing of a deal that could see more than £4 million ploughed into the sport.
Angling Trust chiefs signed a contract with the Environment Agency in a landmark agreement that will see the organisations work together for the next four years and provide vital funds that will allow the sport’s governing body to achieve its goals that will directly benefit UK anglers.
Far-reaching plans to improve the sport will address key issues facing angling, such as increasing participation and bringing youngsters into the sport, providing funds to develop running and stillwater fisheries, as well as clamping down on bankside crime.
The amount of money provided by the EA will vary according to licence sales, but with the contract estimated to be worth £1m per annum, the Trust will now have more financial clout to achieve its objectives and secure the future of fishing after becoming the EA’s strategic partner for angling services.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, believes the contract is great news for the Trust and the sport: “We are thrilled to have been awarded this contract, as both organisations are committed to protecting and improving freshwater angling by tackling the issues identified by anglers as part of the National Angling Strategy,” he said.
“Money has already been earmarked for projects like events to introduce more anglers to the sport as well as rolling out the voluntary bailiff service across the country, a project which has so far been confined to the South East.”
The Trust will also be responsible for the EA’s new fishery improvement fund, a free grant-based scheme which has already seen thousands of pounds delivered to clubs and projects across the country to help improve their facilities.
The partnership is supported by the secretary of Birmingham Anglers Association, John Williams.
“It’s great for clubs to have a better opportunity to get some cash for improving their fisheries and helping to get more people into angling,” he told Angling Times.
“Giving the Trust more responsibility and the cash to help the sport is certainly a step in the right direction as it is better equipped to provide a service to angling than anyone else,” he said.
Rumours surrounding who would get the contract have been rife for months, with a number of organisations expressing their interest.
All the applicants, including the Trust, had to go through a strict pre-qualification questionnaire to ensure they were suitable to be formally invited to tender for the work.
Sarah Chare, Environment Agency head of fisheries, said: “We chose the Trust as it was in the best place to help us continue our efforts to improve the sport.
“By contracting and working with partners like this, we will secure the best future for angling by playing to our strengths and making rod licence income go further – it’s the ‘all England’ approach to improving the sport.
“We will also not be taking any money away from our area teams, who will continue to offer fisheries and clubs advice as well as operating our incident response service and licence checking.
“Clubs will benefit from not only the Fisheries Improvement Fund, but hopefully the increase in participation.
“The number of youngsters entering the sport has fallen, and we want to buck this trend,” she said.
Sarah Collins, the newly-appointed director of the Angling Trust and CEO of Get Hooked On Fishing, an Angling Trust-backed charity which helps to get thousands of kids into the sport every year, is excited by the planned greater emphasis on improving participation.
“This contract will mean more money for getting kids and families into the sport, as well as allowing us to run more follow-on days where those who have already tried fishing can continue to seek advice.
“The more kids and newcomers we get into the sport, the more licences we sell and the more money gets pumped back into fishing,” she said.