Only Strength in Unity Will Protect the Future of Fishing
Fishing is an important recreation, arguably the most popular of all. It is a business which brings some billion pounds into the Welsh economy each year and is such a delightful way of life to so many people. It is often said that angling - like rugby - is a religion and not a sport.
In Wales we are fortunate that most fishing on rivers, lakes and reservoirs is easily available to local and visiting anglers. Having travelled the world over in search of fishing, I can assure you that we have one of the best methods of all of managing fisheries.
Most beats on Welsh rivers are managed by local people in the form of Welsh angling clubs. This means that local people have the opportunity to have their say and to influence the manner in which their local fisheries are run.
Yet it would be wrong to think that everything is hunky-dory, as in addition to local angling clubs, the management of fisheries often requires a regional or a national body to help to ensure that the interests of fisheries are safeguarded nationally and internationally.
Recently I attended a meeting in London where the English National Angling Federations were getting together to discuss the formation of one unified body to manage their fisheries, both nationally and internationally. That unified body would have the responsibility to speak to the Government on behalf of all anglers.
It is going to be quite a task but a great achievement if it succeeds.
At present it is the Moran Committee that speaks to the Westminster Government on behalf of most anglers in England and Wales. This committee was formed in 2000/01 to prepare angling responses to the Salmon & Trout Freshwater Fisheries Review by the Government, and it gave evidence at every stage of the review process.
Since the review was produced it has pursued its implementation. It has been to lobby Parliament and has provided the Government with a single point of contact. It has also provided advice to English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales.
The review was made by a committee appointed by the Government under the chairmanship of Linda Warren, formerly a professor at Aberystwyth University, and who has certainly achieved piscatorial immortality for the excellence of the report, now commonly known as the Warren Report.
Lord John Moran from Aberedw, near Builth Wells, is the chairman of the Moran Committee and is one of the leading people in the House of Lords in piscatorial matters, and both he and Lord Livsey made very good speeches in the recent debate on salmon.
The Moran Committee has served the angling cause well and it would now seem that in England they are looking to unite the many organisations that look after the interests of anglers.
All governing bodies for angling in England - the coarse, game and sea anglers - have very strong individual organisations, but were united in 1999 when the Sports Council informed them that they would have to get together and form one body to produce one angling plan for the sport of fishing if they wished to get funding. …