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Angling for good

The most recent rod licence sales figures for the current financial year don’t make pleasant reading. If participation levels haven't reached crisis point, they're certainly headed in that direction. But help is potentially at hand: The 2019-2024 National Angling Strategy.

National Angling Strategy: 2018 National Angling Survey

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.

Placeholder for quotes
We 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.
John Ellis, national angling and fisheries manager

Where might the funding come from?

All of the work of the Trust and of the other partners costs money.

Perhaps the key to saving the tackle industry and the sport could be investment in growing the wider angling marketplace rather than focussing on individual brands within a declining marketplace. We wish the Angling Trades Association all the best in leading on this vital paradigm shift within its own membership. Beyond that, government has a desire to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation, so we have to strive to convince them that angling really can play an important role here and is worth funding at the right level.

Angling. Many things to many people

Urban, rural, coastal, alone or in a competition, the choice is yours. There are few sports quite like angling. One big change in the past 30 or 40 years we've observed is the lack of competition fishing within junior sections of clubs.

Even worse than that, some clubs have no junior development plans at all, that's like a football club not having its own junior academy. Long gone are the days when many hundreds of kids proudly and nervously representing 60 or 70 clubs and associations, like the young Simon Mottram back in 1990 took part in the old NFA national junior championships.

At a more local level, when was the last time you heard of an inter club junior competition? Research continues to show that the majority of kids prefer to participate in team sports so maybe angling has a missed trick here. We would love to hear what you think.


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Last Edited: 26 June 2019

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