Angling for good
Hopefully, the launch of the 2019-2024 angling strategy will be the first step to reversing this ongoing trend, which first became noticeable a decade or so ago. Although many seasoned observers rather suspect the decline has been ongoing since the 1970s at least. Cynics will point to the previous strategy launched in 2013. Alas, there was no proper implementation plan, precious little funding, not to mention and a lack of assessment as to whether targets listed in the document were being met or not.
One of the immediate priorities this time around is to effectively deliver and evaluate existing programmes that are already funded by the Environment Agency (EA) and others. We can then work out which projects are really recruiting the most new or re-engaging lapsed anglers and apply those best practice lessons elsewhere.
What is the strategy setting out to achieve?
The new strategy has much focus on health, wellbeing and community and its aims are to increase participation in angling to:
- Increase the numbers of people getting active outdoors through angling
- Improving the health and wellbeing of those that take part
- Help people and communities develop with skills, education, volunteering and facilities
Additionally, the strategy aims to connect more people to nature through angling and increase the economic benefits of angling especially in rural and coastal communities to clubs, fisheries and businesses.
What role will Canal & River Trust play
With appropriate levels of funding, the Trust can play a pivotal role. Here's a few reasons why:
- We are the only fishery owner who has 8 million potential anglers living within 1,000 metres of one of our fisheries and over 25 million potential customers within five miles of a Trust owned fishery
- Over 250 clubs currently use our fisheries, all potential partners in growing angling participation and there is scope to grow this number further.
- A growing and increasingly influential Let's Fish! programme
- Numerous events and festivals all over the network where we can introduce fishing to those who've never been before
- A strategy to further develop and upskill the many keen and willing club coaches within the club voluntary sector.
We'll have a place on the strategy partnership board whose immediate priority will be to develop a funded delivery plan with targets, timelines, resources and performance indicators.