Mark Lloyd is a man on a mission... to save angling from fish thieves, fight for our future, and even give anglers free rod licences!
But the clock has started ticking for Lloyd as he has just 12 months to persuade 20,000 of us to follow his vision and become members of The Angling Trust.
Failure is not an option he is willing to contemplate, but the reality is without the support, the Trust fails. And angling has no leadership.
In a face-to-face meeting with Angling Times at our Peterborough headquarters, Mark vowed the Trust would campaign fearlessly on behalf of the nation’s millions of anglers.
“We need to attract 20,000 individual members in the first year in order for the Angling Trust to succeed,” admitted Mark, the current boss of the Anglers’ Conservation Association.
“That’s the 10,000 current members of all the old governing bodies, plus another 10,000. I think the first 20,000 anglers will be easy to attract, but then members will get increasingly expensive and difficult to enrol as time goes by.
“There are easily 20,000, maybe even as many as 40,000 anglers out there willing to support a single governing body that will fight for them and their sport,” he insisted.
Successful high-profile political campaigning on the most important issues affecting fishing are key to encouraging anglers to join.
But it is the Trust’s new Fish For Free loyalty programme that will appeal to every angler in the country. Not only will it save anglers money on fishing-related products and services including rod licences, but it will also provide the new organisation with the means of directly targeting anglers with its message.
Angling Times' 10 big questions answered
Q How much is membership to the Angling Trust?
A A year’s subscription cost £20 for adults and £5 for juniors. Club membership costs between £50 and £250, depending on the number of members.
Q When can anglers join The Angling Trust?
A The Trust is being launched in London in the second week of January. Our promotional material is being posted to over 800,000 licence holders in March.
Q How many members do you think you can get?
A We could get as many as 100,000 members over the next three years if the likes of Angling Times supports us.
Q Is the current rod licence good value for money?
A No, I think it offers appalling value. We don’t know where that money is going and I don’t think that it gets targeted according to anglers’ wants and needs.
There are far too many suits sat in head office drawing up policies and not enough people doing the important work on the bank.
Q What are the most important issues affecting coarse angling today?
A Poaching, predation and pollution, in that order. We need to identify fresh new ways to combat each of these threats in order to effectively protect fisheries’ and anglers’ interests.
Q What does Parliamentary Angling Spokesman Martin Salter think about it?
A He thinks that the Trust is a positive step forward and will claim that unity was his idea, as will others. That’s a good thing because it proves that unity was a step in the right direction and that the Trust is an organisation we need.
Q What do you think of proposals to fund The Trust with a levy on the licence?
A I’m against the principle of a levy on the rod licence because if we take anglers’ money in the form of a tax then we lose their goodwill, whereas if they join of their own accord then it will give us far more power when lobbying Government.
Q Should sea anglers have to buy a rod licence?
A I don’t like the idea of a rod licence for sea anglers. I think the minuses outweigh the plusses. People should be free to try out sea fishing as it’s the route a lot of people take coming into the sport.
Q What else will The Angling Trust do for the sport?
A We’ll be planning some direct action campaigns and publicity stunts ¬ like people getting dressed up in silly costumes ¬ to raise our media profile.
The Trust will need to be seen to be doing things and campaigning on behalf of anglers. We need coarse, sea and game campaigns to show that we’re all things to all anglers.
Q What’s your main job as the boss of this new organisation?
A Apart from managing the staff and the business, I need to manage expectations. We should be a lot further along than we are. We’ve put this together on a shoestring and I haven’t got as many resources as I’d like in order to do all the things that need doing. But the fact that we’ve got this far is a massive achievement which I’m confident we can build on.