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Further slump in UK fishing licence sales is very disappointing says industry

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ATA Vice Chairman, Mike Heylin: “The trade needs to wake up to the fact that no one else has the responsibility for growing its market for tackle.”

Income from UK licence sales to the end of August 2018 is down almost £2.3m from the same point last year and is forecast to be £2.1m down by the end of the year. The Environment Agency, the issuing body, has also revealed that the number of anglers is also down by 132,847, or 14.7%.

The reasons for the decline, which is a serious concern for a UK industry already alarmed by the drop-off in fishing participation, is ‘complicated’, says the Agency. It cites the general decline since 2009, continued marketing restrictions, heavy rain at the start of the season in April and Easter and the new licence structure.

The Agency also points to the impact of GDPR, reporting difficulties resulting from a depleted development team due to EU exit work and a general decline across sports participation.

Mike Heylin, Vice Chairman of the Angling Trades Association (ATA), the body representing fishing tackle manufacturers, said the figures were ‘very disappointing’ even though they may have been affected by an early Easter, the World Cup and adverse weather.

“The trade, the Angling Trust and others are doing all they can to bring in new young anglers, but with varied success and limited funds,” he told Angling International.  “We are fighting societal changes in attitudes and behaviour and to succeed we all need to be rowing the same boat and have an agreed method and campaign to recruit those new anglers we all so desperately need.

“The trade needs to wake up to the fact that no one else has the responsibility for growing its market for tackle. Join the trade association, get involved and help everyone benefit from increasing numbers of anglers. Don’t just leave it to others.”

The Agency also says it is looking at new approaches for 2019/20. These could include engagement with tackle companies, wider use of third party social media and the targeting of specific age groups, such as under-45s.

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