New research has revealed that angling is more popular than ever before, with 20 per cent of the population having been freshwater fishing over the last 10 years.
The Environment Agency-commissioned survey, involving face-to-face interviews with 2,304 people, asked the same questions as similar polls in 1997, 2001 and 200 5.
And when it came to the numbers going fishing, results were staggering:
6.1m people have been freshwater or sea fishing in the past two years
4.2m people have been freshwater fishing in the past two years
1.9m people have been sea fishing in the past year (up to 2.8m in past two years)
4.9m anglers have been fishing in the last 10 years, but not the past two.
The survey also revealed angling is being viewed more positively by the public.
Apparently, more feel ‘angling is an acceptable pastime’, fewer people thought that ‘angling is cruel’, and an increasing numbers of young people think angling is ‘an okay thing to do’.
The findings reinforce the sport’s growing popularity ¬ rod licence sales have increased by 35 per cent over the past decade, from 1.09m in 2000/01 to 1.47m in 2009/10, far faster than the UK’s six per cent growth in population.
“The news is generally very positive and the figures really encouraging. The survey clearly demonstrates the public’s improving attitudes towards our sport, and that can only be a good thing,” said Angling Trust boss Mark Lloyd.
“Unfortunately, such views are not always reflected by those in positions of power, some of whom seek to restrict access to public waters or fail to recognise the vital role angling plays in local communities and in the protection of the environment.”
The Trust also stressed the apparent increase in popularity of sea fishing, up 23 per cent on the numbers published in the Government’s Drew Report in 2003.
It seized upon the figure of 1.9m sea anglers as proof that the Government needs to see that recreational anglers are properly represented on the 10 new inshore fisheries and conservation authorities that come into effect next year, as opposed to pandering to the commercial sector.
“Sea angling continues to increase its contribution to the coastal economies of England and Wales at a faster pace than we expected,” said John Amery, chair of the Trust’s Marine Committee.
“It has become a vital part of the much larger tourist industry and is of particular benefit to those communities outside the peak tourist months, because anglers typically fish throughout the winter,” he added.