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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The Buy Out.

Some time, in the not to distant future we will be asked to pay out for a sea angling license. The Marine Bill is currently being formulated within DEFRA, they are setting up the legal side of things, that will enable them to introduce a license at any time in the future at a time of their choosing.

I would guess that the starting price would be about £25 a year at today’s prices. Many of us may decide that its not good value for money and drop out of the sport, there may be, say half a million of us prepared to pay up and ….I was going to say pay up and smile, but just lets leave it at pay. That will give them £12.5 million, what will DEFRA give us in return, well on past experience, not a lot.

For licences to be acceptable to anglers, fishing would have to get a lot better that it is now, we would need sport restored to what is was twenty five years ago or better. To deliver such improvements, changes would need to take place in fish stock management. Those changes would mean that commercial fishing practises in inshore waters would have to be dramatically changed, I doubt that the commercial fishing industry would allow DEFRA to introduce such changes.

There is another way, we pay up but not for a license but to buy out commercial netting inside the six-mile limit, we buy the finfish fishing rights. Most of our fishing takes place inside the six, by definition all beach fishing, the fast growing small boat sector of our sport is mainly inside the six and if there were no nets and plenty of fish a lot more charter trips would be better off inshore. If you think this is pie in the sky read on and take a look at the numbers, they add up. All the values used have been calculated using DEFRA statistical records.

At a recent meeting with sea angling reps the head of DEFRA, Rodney Anderson claimed that DEFRA are not the sponsors of commercial fishing but are only interested in returning the best value from marine resource for the nation, if he is as good as his word DEFRA will give such a buy out long and hard consideration. The value of sea angling in England and Wales is worth, according to DEFRA’s own figures is £538 million and has the potential to grow hugely, given more and bigger fish.

The commercial fishery on the other hand cannot grow under existing management, to do that if would need to land even more fish, it can’t they have already been caught

The total value of all fin fish landed by commercial fishing in England and Wales was, according to DEFRA’s own figures £42 million, take out the distant water fish, the hake, the megrim sole, blue whiting and so on, leave only the fish we fish for and the figure comes down to below £20 million. Now only count those fish taken in the area of sea most of us fish in, inside the six-mile limit and the value of the commercial catch comes down to a manageable £10 million.

So in raw numbers £10 million plays £538, million, DEFRA has often said that you can’t compare the value of RSA with commercial fishing, they are right, RSA is worth lots more than commercial fishing. That £10 million is what they are paid at the landed value of their catch, not their profit. Deduct the running cost of a boat, fuel, moorings, insurance and the need to pay crew, all overheads for the boat owner, lets be generous and say they make 50% profit, that’s £5 million we need to buy them out of the fin fish market inside the six.

Within the Marine Bill there are other issues, no take zones, NTZ, s, there are Marine Protected Areas, MPAs, Other groups have real interest in these, they are the environmental none government organisations, the NGOs. The RSPB are in there looking after the birds, they get my vote if they can halt the death toll of sea birds in gill nets. Then WWF, lets hope they can save the sea mammals, dolphins, porpoise and the like.

Other government agencies are having their say as well. The EA has a big interest with sea trout and salmon to look after, good luck to them, Natural England are there as well, they were English Nature, there to look after all thing natural for us all. In their wildest dream they may hope for a few dozen such areas totalling perhaps a thousand square miles of net free sea, if they back an RSA buy out they would share a 9000 square mile MPA girdling the country.

There would be financial savings for local councils as well; the funding for Sea Fisheries Committees comes out of our local taxes, without the fin fish to worry about they could concentrate on shellfish and cut their enforcement costs.

All of the above share our interests in restoring one of our national treasures, our inshore waters to their former beauty, full of life above and below the surface. The only opposition there is to achieving that is the commercial fishing industry and their powerful propergander machine.

Each time they are asked to curb their excesses they cry foul and the god given right of commercial fishermen to earn a livelihood comes into play, to hell with the interests or livelihoods of the industries that depend on our inshore waters, to hell with a million sea anglers, they come first.

Under the buy out they can still fish inside the six for shell fish which is by far the most profitable side of their market, they can still fish out side the six but they can’t cry livelihoods again as they are being paid not to fish inside the six mile limit. If the augment those coastal communities would suffer lets look at what the recent history of the fishing industry can tell us. In 1960 there were 28,000 employed in the fishing industry, by 1990 it was down to 17,000, since then the decline has continued and by the year 2005 there were just 12,000 left. So much for the livelihoods argument.

If a buy out were to be successful there would, within a few years be opportunities for youngsters to start up chartering businesses, shore guiding services, centre console sport fishing boats, offering fly and lure fishing to game fish anglers. For those that moved across to RSA there would be a future but left as it is and the historic decline allowed to continues those jobs will be gone forever and we can all attend Captain Birdseye’s funeral.

So what would we get in return, well for a start we would have what would be effectively a net free MPA of about 9000 square miles that, within a few short years would become a fish sanctuary, stock would build as the seabed recovered from the ravages of trawling. I know that fish don’t recognise boundaries and are free to swim where they will but over time as the area matured the natural richness of the environment would hold more than enough good fish to meet our needs. I would guess that the commercial shell fish fishery would also benefit from the sea bed being rested from the trawling that has caused the desertification of much of the sea bed, I have no problem with that, but no tangle nets that are used by some crab and lobstermen.

Imagine as an angler or charter boat skipper, being able to decide to fish this mark or that and know that when you get their it will be net free, not a gill net in sight, no trawlers running close by and with the sure knowledge that year after year it can only get better, for that I would pay, would you?

If enough of us paid up there would be money to spare, money that could be spent on further development of our sport, launching sites for dinghy’s, fishing jetties for shore anglers, car parking, toilet and wash rooms at popular venues, elsewhere in the world where the true value of RSA is understood these things do happen.

It could happen here but we would need an alliance between anglers and the tackle trade, the boat manufacturers, the charter boat industry to drive our needs home, we need what the USA started twenty five years ago, they have the RFA, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, it worked well for them so lets start the debate and make it happen here.

The End.
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