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Funding secured for promotion of recreational fishing in England and Wales

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Mike Heylin, Vice Chairman of the Angling Trades Association, welcomes the funding, but believes more has to happen to arrest the current decline in participation.

The Angling Trust, the representative body for anglers in England and Wales, has secured new funding totaling more than £5.25m to promote recreational fishing.

The Trust has renewed a four-year contract with the Environment Agency (EA) worth approximately £1.15m a year and has agreed a new £670,000 two-year contract with Sport England.

In both cases the Trust is charged with investing the money in the promotion of angling. Growing licence sales is believed to be one of the key issues on which the Trust is measured.

However, the contracts have been renewed in the wake of a dramatic fall in rod licence sales and deep concerns about falling participation.

Figures published in October last year showed that licence sales to the end of August 2018 were down14.7% compared to the same period the previous year. Licence sales have declined 40% since 2010.

Individual membership of the Trust is also believed to be declining and is heavily reliant on match anglers who have to join the organisation in order to fish its competitions. Club membership has increased.

Announcing the new deal with the EA, the Trust says the contract will build on the success of initiatives it has delivered over the past four years, pointing to the introduction of 500 volunteer bailiffs and the delivery of regional angling forums.

It also highlights the ‘millions of pounds’ of reinvestment of rod licence income through the Angling Improvement Fund and the delivery of 1800 events in the last two years.

The Trust says the size and scope of the EA contract has been slightly reduced due to falling sales of fishing licences and grant aid from the government in recent years. It also says the Angling Improvement Fund will be smaller, with a focus on tackling the impact of predation.

Mike Heylin, Vice Chairman of the Angling Trades Association and a former Trust Chairman welcomes the funding, but believes more has to happen to arrest the current decline.

“It is a good thing that the EA is continuing to invest in the market, even though its own income is declining,” he told Angling International.

“That level of investment does put pressure on the tackle industry itself to seriously consider how and where it should invest to develop its own market. The future of angling is not all about brands. Successful marketing campaigns are essential if we are to make a real difference.

“They are doing great things in the US to stimulate participation and we can learn a lot from that. We are losing more than 23,000 anglers a year in the UK at the current rate and that can’t continue.”

Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, said: “We are pleased that the EA and Sport England have chosen to continue to support the Angling Trust to improve and promote angling in England over the next two to four years.

“We look forward to working with thousands of clubs, fisheries, coaches and volunteers to protect and improve the sport we all love. We urge everyone to work with us to help encourage more people to go fishing and to buy a fishing licence.

“With government funding being cut, income from licence sales is vital to support all the Environment Agency’s fisheries activities, including delivery of partnership contracts.”

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