15 January 2009
Embrace this new era - Professional stance will give The Angling Trust clout
The year two thousand and nine will go down in history as the year that angling started to punch its weight.
A sport that is enjoyed by so many has managed to muddle through in a divided fashion, with coarse, sea and game fishing all 'governed' by disparate groups, even worse by groups within groups. It has been obvious that to gain genuine recognition those groups all need to unify and, at long last, it has happened; The Angling Trust has been born.
The main organisations involved are the National Federation of Anglers (NFA), National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA), Anglers' Conservation Association (ACA) and the National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives (NAFAC). The smaller groups affiliated to those bodies are automatically included.
The one party missing is the Salmon and Trout Association, which applied for charitable status long before the event. This prevents the organisation from offering member services available through the Angling Trust so, despite making the same financial guarantee and input as the other parties, they will remain outside but very much onside, if you get my drift.
At Wednesday's press launch the CEO, Mark Lloyd, who carried out the same role at the ACA, outlined the plans and aspirations of the new body and I, for one, believe that it is the best possible future vision for angling as a whole.
There are many things going on in our world that will have far-reaching effects, whether you consider the proposed Severn Barrage destroying the runs of migratory fish such as salmon, sea trout and shad into that river as well as the Wye and Usk; the latest proposals from Brussels that want to include recreational sea anglers, even those beach casting, in the overall quota on our commercial catches or the threat of KHV which hangs over coarse fishing's most popular branch like the Sword of Damoclese. The Angling Trust will be dealing with those and all other angling related matters from now on.
Unlike the NFA and NFSA which went before, ultimately the AT will be staffed by dedicated professionals rather than enthusiastic amateurs; people hired for their skills rather than the ability to put up their hand at the AGM. They will be answerable to a board of directors, because this is an articled company and that board will be answerable to the shareholders who, of course are the members.
Fish 'O' Mania
Every aspect of the original organisations will be carried out by the AT, including organising competitions, including Fish 'O' Mania of course, running the various England teams and producing rules for competitions. Then there is coaching, a massive part of angling these days, and items as diverse as canoe access and the effects of agricultural run-off.
The role taken in the past by the ACA, that of guardian of the waterside, will still be there, operating within the Trust as Fish Legal. As there are two full-time solicitors involved they will not only be in position to bash polluters but also to offer other legal advice on matters such as tenancy agreements.
It must be remembered that while polluters can always be prosecuted under the law, any fines go to the exchequer rather than towards restoring the damage and there is no place for compensation for loss of amenity, when there is no chance of fishing for example, and for replacing stock.
The Trust is also offering a great deal on insurance for clubs and fisheries as well as public liability of £5,000,000 included with the individual membership fee. And if that's not enough, they have a scheme in place where purchases made in various outlets will gather rewards in the shape of money off tackle, day tickets and even your rod licence! Spend enough and you'll get you membership costs back - and it's automatic too, no need to carry loyalty cards.
If you want full information on the Trust, take a look at their website and decide if you can afford NOT to join.