Angling Not Hit By Defra Budget Cuts

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw was quick to correct reports in The Guardian today that the financial cuts caused by Defra's current budget crisis would hit angling.


The Guardian claimed that massive cutbacks, which look set to see 1,400 jobs slashed at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, meant the Environment Agency fisheries department would have raise the price of rod licences to cover savings made in fisheries protection.


"I would like to correct any impression that Defra's budget settlement for the Environment Agency for 2008/09 will reduce spending on fisheries protection," clarified the minister.


"In fact, the Environment Agency is this year spending more than ever before on salmon and freshwater fisheries protection, at a total of £34 million, compared with £32 million in 2007/08.

"It is true that Defra has given the Agency a flat c

ash settlement of £5.9 million to cover fisheries work in 2008/09, but this level of funding represents no cut whatsoever from last year's level.


"Further income will come from the increase in rod licence duties over the next three years, which were announced last year, and are part of the Agency's ongoing fisheries business plan," concluded Jonathan Shaw MP.


He also pointed out that Defra recognises that the EA's work would be made easier if the current freshwater fisheries legislation was modernised and made more flexible.


"We will announce measures to enable the Agency to operate more effectively in its fisheries work in the draft Marine Bill this Spring," he added.


The news was welcomed by Martin Salter MP, Labour's spokesperson for angling.


“I have been lobbying furiously on behalf of Britain’s anglers and have raised the issue of the mismatch between licence fee income and government Grant-in-Aid for fisheries work on no less than three occasions in Parliament in recent months," explained Martin.


"I am delighted that Fisheries Minister, Jonathan Shaw has listened to anglings’ case and that the important fisheries work of the Environment Agency can carry on.”


Overall, funding for the Environment Agency has been increased in a number of areas with an extra £4m found for environmental protection and an extra £49m for flood defence work.