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The RSA Strategy is Coming

Oct 11,2007 SACN


Almost certainly by the end of this year (2007), probably in November, DEFRA will launch its public consultation on the development of a Recreational Sea Angling strategy.

Being the government department responsible for overall fisheries policy, and having only fairly recently accepted responsibility for the Recreational Sea Angling sector and the UK’s Recreational Sea Fisheries, DEFRA has already consulted widely with its stakeholder groups on the strategy it will adopt for future development, management and regulation of the Recreational Sea Angling sector.

It now has to put that draft strategy in front of Recreational Sea Anglers, other stakeholders with an interest, and the general public at large before progressing many of the issues that have been, and will be identified within the final strategy document.

Lasting for 12 weeks, this consultation will be an opportunity for those who profess support for a Golden Mile to drive home their case (and for those who oppose the concept) to register their support or their concerns.

For if proposals for a Golden Mile are not included within the final strategy document, or appear only in a very watered-down form, it is likely to be many years, and involve considerable additional campaigning effort, before we are likely to see anything resembling the Golden Mile proposal implemented. 

This is an opportunity for Recreational Sea Anglers, and their representative organisations to strongly press their case for a Golden Mile, for it is certain that others will not miss the opportunity to perhaps squash the idea.

And it is another opportunity also for those who resolutely reject the idea of a UK sea angling licence to put forward their case, as it is for those who might find the idea of a licence acceptable, given certain conditions, to spell out those conditions.

But remember, such consultations are not simply a referendum on the proposals, but an attempt to more fully understand the consequences of each particular course of action, and to consider issues and arguments that might previously have been missed and, more importantly, to gather additional evidence upon which decisions can be made.

ie not only to simply say what you are for or against, but to explain why you are for or against it, and to produce the evidence (rather than simple rhetoric) that supports your case.

It is likely that there will be four main objectives to the strategy:

• To provide more and bigger fish within a healthy and sustainable ecosystem and environment

• To capitalise on the economic potential of the sport to optimise  the economic and social return to coastal economies and society and identify ways to re-invest expenditure to provide further benefits

• To maintain and increase participation in RSA on a sustainable basis, (promoting best environmental practice) across all groups in society to provide socio – economic benefits

• To increase awareness and understanding of RSA, both within and outside the sector, through improved communication, education and increased participation in fisheries management


Other specific issues likely to be consulted upon include:

• Management of Recreational Sea Fisheries.

• Development of individual species management plans.

• Who will be involved in such management (eg Sea Fisheries Committees or their replacement).

• How it will it all be paid for.


As with all such things, the devil will be in the detail, and it will be important to study the draft carefully, and to respond appropriately before anything is set in stone.

But perhaps more important than that is to think about things that have been forgotten and have left out of the strategy document. 

What has been missed?

As well as responding to DEFRA yourself, it will be equally important to ensure that your friends, angling club, and representative organisation(s) etc are also responding to the consultation, and know your views.  They should be thinking now how they are going to do that, who exactly will be responsible for co-ordinating the response and ensuring that it is received by DEFRA by the final deadline.

Politicians too will be influential in what the Minister finally decides goes into the eventual strategy, and what is left out.  You need to ensure that your MP knows about the consultation, knows your views, and responds to the consultation themselves.

How will you know when the consultation has started, where to send your response?

If you have responded to a previous DEFRA fisheries consultation, it is likely that you will be sent details when the consultation is launched.

Otherwise now is the time to write to:

DEFRA Coastal Waters Policy Team
Nobel House
Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

Telling them that you want to be sent details of the consulatation on the Strategy for the Development of Recreational Sea Angling when the consultation is launched.

Publication of the final strategy document will represent a turning point in the future of Recreational Sea Angling within the UK, whether you personally want that or not.

It’s equally important to ensure that the eventual strategy document includes the things that you want to see happen, as much as those that you would prefer not to come to fruition.

Once the opportunity to have your say on the issues covered has passed, it will be much more difficult to affect the direction of Government strategy towards Recreational Sea Angling and the management of our Recreational Sea Fisheries in the future, so the opportunity to respond to the development of the strategy should not be easily given up.



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