The Angling Trust launched a campaign to encourage sea anglers to write to their MP and express their frustration with the findings of the Benyon Review of Highly Protected Marine Areas.
The review, submitted to government at the end of June, calls for sea angling to be prohibited in all highly protected marine areas, even before any such areas have been identified by government as pilot areas.
The report has lumped sea angling in with destructive practices such as trawling, dredging and drilling. In doing so it has made the assumption that sea angling should automatically be prohibited in these areas.
Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said:
“Anglers are feeling let down by this review. We support the need for greater measures to protect our marine environment. We must be part of making that happen. We are asking sea anglers to join us in writing to their MP to ask them to lobby George Eustice, Secretary of State at Defra to ensure sea anglers are properly consulted on the next steps in taking HPMAs forward.
“The blanket assumption that sea anglers should automatically be locked out of all HPMAs shows an utter lack of knowledge about our sport. We’re often the eyes and ears of these protected sites, as we’re out there more than most. Worse, if you look at examples from other parts of the world, its counterproductive, often leading to worse conservations outcomes, not better.”
Marine conservation and recreational fishing share the same goals and the Review Panel’s recommendation to exclude the angling community from the process has created unnecessary conflict, even before the government have selected the five pilot sites they will take forward.
Sea angling generates considerable economic value to the UK economy, yet too often it is ignored or marginalised as a stakeholder regarding the management of our seas. For example, there was no representation of the recreational sea angling sector on the review panel.
The Angling Trust calls upon Ministers to accept the case for the introduction of HPMAs as proposed by the Benyon Review, but to reject the aspects of the report which equate the impacts of modern recreational sea angling to damaging industrial activities.
Through our response we set out evidence for recreational fishing that takes place both in and round marine protected areas in other locations around the world. In all of these cases, engagement with and the involvement of the recreational angling community has improved conservation outcomes.
Singleton-White, added: “For many sea anglers, the main reason we go fishing is for the love we have for the sea. We know, better than most how important a healthy sea is. The more anglers who write to their MP, the lounder our voice, the better we’ll be heard.”