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Issue 2 May 2001

May 03,2001 Leon Roskilly


Welcome to Issue 2 of WaveMaker, newsletter of the Sea Anglers Conservation Network.

I'm Chris Pledge, and for my sins I've volunteered my services to act as editor of this journal.

Some of you may be familiar with my work as a freelance angling photojournalist; but most readers will not have a clue about me!

So as not to bore you all rigid, if you want to hop over to (removed) There is a more formal introduction there, and some of my own personal views on sea angling conservation.

In the coming months I hope that we can add other profiles of the growing SACN membership.

Having worked with Mike Thrussell - one of the best known names in British angling - on the sadly departed Improve Your Sea Fishing. I asked that if he would be good enough to get the ball rolling and let me have an item for this issue as our first guest columnist…thankfully Mike obliged and below are some of his thoughts.

Mike Thrussell writes

Only if you really care about something do you get off your backside and actually do something about preserving it. Fact of life! I first wrote about conservation within angling and declining fish stocks back in the-mid 80's because I could see the damage being done. There were other concerned writers putting pen to paper at the same time too, but we were fringe players then, rarely tolerated by media editors, and I was actually called paranoid at one stage by a then eminent editor. Getting conservation copy published was pretty much impossible!

A decade on and many of our paranoia are realised. Cod stocks have been decimated to the point of collapse, mackerel get less in numbers every year, sharks are thin on the ground, and most of the bass seem to have junior after their name.

It's just a tad easier these days to get editors interested in conservation topics.

On the plus side, anglers are now much more aware of conservation policies, and equally importantly competitions are being run under the ceiling of conservation. The mass heaviest bag kills of years gone by are beginning to be a page in history. Anglers, both competitive and freelance, now return most of their fish, they help with tagging programmes, and even choose to use barbless hooks or flatten the barbs on standard patterns. The message is getting home. Maybe, just maybe, we've steadied the ship!

But what of the future? I fear the biggest fight has only just started. It's only flashing swords and shields on the horizon at present, but the hordes are coming. The fight will be to preserve angling as a free sport and to justify its existence. I hear the same words "It'll never happen" being voiced when we talk of a future potential ban on angling. Unfortunately those are the same words I heard back in the 80's when we first raised concerns about commercial over-fishing.

Neither do politicians who say, "Angling is safe with us", impress me! It probably is safe short term, but only until another voice speaks louder and longer. Remember that the older politicians who are more likely to fish are nearing the end of their political lives. You only need listen to news bulletins to see there is a different mentality amongst the junior ranks.

To test the conviction of anglers, and make politicians from all parties aware of our long-term intentions, I decided to run a Future of Angling petition on my web site. We've had a good response. Hundreds of readers have signed, but considering we get over 75,000 hits a month and that figure is growing fast, I'm actually disappointed. Do you know why so many anglers refuse to sign? Because they fear they might be picked out and targeted by anti anglers, this on a petition that deliberately does not ask for a full address!

We asked, and that's the answer we got. There you have it. Anglers are frightened of the anti's! And where does that leave us?

Angling's long-term survival depends on making 100% sure that the politicians realise we are a powerful and rhetoric group and will not vote for politicians that do not support angling long term. I wrote to my MP a couple of months ago. I asked if he would support angling personally and how his party stood as a collective. He voiced personal support but made no mention of his party. I didn't expect him to, but that is the element of doubt that proves my concern.

There is a General Election due soon. Many of you will get to see your potential candidates at your doorstep…ask them about angling's future and gauge their support. Simply asking will make them aware of our presence and that we have massive voting power as a sport. Better still, write to your MP's and get them to make a response. Any that don't respond are not worth your vote anyway. Do these simple things and when the question regards the Future of Angling is finally raised in the House of Commons, then those vote conscious MP's will be keen to support us.

© Mike Thrussell 2001

I'd like to personally thank Mike on behalf of the SACN membership for taking time out of a very busy schedule to pen his item, he has certainly given us plenty of food for thought!

ACTION PLAN…if you have not yet registered on the petition at Mike Thrussell's Sea-Fishing.com (http://www.sea-fishing.com/home/today/index.shtml) please take a few seconds to follow the links and do so now…it really is in your own interest! 

Floundering for words?

I wasn’t too sure whether to laugh or cry when SACN stalwart Malcolm Gilbert circulated this email to the group about flounders, it goes: Just received a call from a BBC researcher looking for photos and information on flounders. She works for the Garry Rhodes chef programme. Garry wants to promote the consumption of flounders for the UK fishing industry since so many of the more popular species are over-fished! I (very politely) suggested that she asked Garry to give some thought to the other user stakeholders (us anglers) who were increasingly p____d off with the 'over-fishing of the more popular species'. I also pointed out that flounders are an angler's fish and promoting these 'other' species would result in exactly the same fate for them…i.e. annihilation. She acknowledged that there were many species that were only a couple of decades ago regarded as junk but which were now highly regarded amongst the seafood gourmets. I think she got the point of what I was saying but suspect she will still source the info from somewhere else for the BBC!

It's not the first time the BBC has been guilty of promoting some of the anglers' bread and butter species as gourmet delicacies. Rick Stein's recent series travelled around the coastline of Britain extolling the virtues of what many of us would probably describe as lesser species when it comes to culinary excellence. I saw the first episode when amongst others he waxed lyrical about the finer qualities of dabs and gurnard...never bothered to watch any more!

Flounder's are a mainstay of many sea anglers throughout the long winter months; they also provide the perfect introduction into our sport for junior anglers to tackle. What do you think? Our kind host Elton has put up a page on the SACN site for you to have your say in this matter.

So do you really like the idea that Gary Rhodes feels that flounder are a culinary treat, do you oppose this idea, or are you just an apathy voter and couldn’t care less. Three choices, we'll send the final count to the BBC, and try to get a response from Mr 'Masterchef' Rhodes himself.

ACTION PLAN…votes can be cast now at SACN's Fishing Rhodes (http://www.anglersnet.co.uk/poll.html). I've also added couple of more interesting pictures of flounder at http://www.anglersnet.co.uk/sacn/wmpics.htm. See if you fancy one of these specimens in a hollandaise sauce? 

Leon's Look: insight from SACN's Leon Roskilly

Lunchtime often finds me down at Sun Pier, Chatham, dipping a thermometer into the water and looking for the 'lip marks' mullet make on the algae covered structures of the pier. 10ºC is the critical temperature where mullet first begin to feed, on the Thursday before Easter it read as 10.1ºC.

Then winter returned and the water temperature dived back to 8.7ºC; with the Medway Mullet Group fish-in arranged for 7th May, I was starting to worry whether any fish would show. Checking last year's diary I saw exactly the same pattern, a warming then a sudden cold snap sending the sea temperature diving, followed by several days of more seasonal Spring weather.

With low tide during the sunniest part of the day, the exposed estuary mudflats soon heat up. Their dark surface soaking up the sun's rays and transferring stored warmth into the rising evening tide, causing the water in the estuary to heat rapidly. Soon the mullet are busily feeding; the crabs start their peeling process and all manner of summer species head into the estuary for the feast. Not too long now then…fingers crossed!

It will be nice to get back to some fishing. This winter has been a disaster, weather, floods, foot and mouth, and one virus infection after another, all conspiring to keep me indoors. Now all I have to do is to prepare a response to the EU Green Paper on the Common Fisheries Policy, write my presentation to the MCS Conference for Recreational Angling and keep ahead of my email inbox…then I can go fishing!

At least I don't have to worry about getting another issue of WaveMaker out. Thankfully, Chris Pledge has stepped in to take over the role of Editor; Chris has been with SACN since the beginning, actually before the beginning. When I was posting details of the Bass Restoration Campaign to Internet Newsgroups a couple of years ago, I remember getting e-mails from Chris suggesting an Internet based angling pressure group…I must admit, I was less than keen on the idea.

Already sucked into the world of coarse angling politics, I thought that angling needed another organisation like a hole in the head (and I suspect I had some idea of what it would do to my life!). So, being one of the instigators of SACN, I'm very thankful to Chris for taking over the particular burden of WaveMaker; I expect that he will make an excellent editor. (Thanks Leon, I'll do my best, cant promise perfect English grammar though…Ed.)

Now there are lots of other jobs, which need doing, it just needs other volunteers to step forward! Membership of SACN is growing steadily, and thankfully for me slowly, so I can easily keep up with the work of registering new members. When we started recruiting I was dreading coming home from work to find my mailbox overflowing? I needn't have worried; the steady build up of membership is both manageable and encouraging. It's good to see so many anglers committed to conservation, and working to spread the message.

Talking of spreading the message, I was invited onto Nick Fisher's Radio Five Live Dirty Tackle programme for a short telephone interview to publicise the work of SACN, and the forthcoming MCS conference. And we had a bonus when Nick followed this up with an excellent article, which was published in 'Shooting Times'. Plus Nick and his producer Helen Stiles have now joined SACN.

Items like these are invaluable for getting out the conservation message to those whom I suspect more interested in fishing for species with an adipose fin, than bass, and perhaps more influential in promoting the interests of sportsmen than sea anglers have achieved so far.

The Dolphin by-catch issue has taken by far the largest slice of SACN time recently, both in the lead up to the recent influential Newsnight programme on BBC television, and in the aftermath of that show. During this time, SACN has built up a list of good contacts amongst both anglers and other conservationists working on the issue, in turn this has done the image of anglers as conservationist minded sportsmen no harm at all.

Following the Newsnight programme, SACN produced a transcript of the interview with the British Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley, and circulated this to interested parties. It was soon translated to French and posted to their own newsgroups…causing something of a stir! French campaigners picked up on the fact that Morley - a European Fisheries Minister - was willing to see the spawning bass fishery closed…so long as this was done at an EU level. This enabled French campaigners to put pressure onto Morley's French counterpart by using SACN's transcript.

It's been interesting to watch the dynamics of this campaign over the last couple of years. Of course MAFF and their European counterparts have known of the slaughter of dolphins for some time but have, but until now they've successfully kept the problem under wraps and ignored it!

The steady drip, drip of letter writing, and exchanging of emails etc, has meant that more politicos and bureaucrats have become involved in gathering information, and so have become sucked into the widening debate. At some point critical mass is achieved, whereby the issue can no longer be ignored. Reports and minutes widen the audience of participants and increase the knowledge base.

At long last I believe that we are getting somewhere with this issue. An email from one of our correspondents brought this news: "received an e-mail yesterday, from someone who attended the recent ASCOBANS meeting in Denmark; a rep. from UNEP was there - first time ever! In the US, British criticism of Bush's action in pulling out of Kyoto is being countered by we don't have to take this from people who allow the illegal mass slaughter of dolphins".

As Roger Baker points out, as anglers we need to ensure that this doesn't become an issue exclusively about dolphins, the plight of bass needs to be continually promoted as well. We are getting there…keep it up!

The EU Green Paper on the Common Fisheries Policy presents us with a rare opportunity to put forward our views as Recreational Anglers, at the highest levels. And as such angling needs to respond to this; through the National Angling Alliance, the NFSA, individual clubs, other organisations such as SACN and ATA etc, and importantly, through us all as individual anglers.

We need to get across the message that recreational angling makes a huge contribution to the economies of EU nations (only just now starting to be recognised). Many of the species important to us are not commercially important and have no protection, suffering decline when other species are fished out.

It is vital that Recreational Angling is fully recognised as a major stakeholder in the management of fish stocks and the ecology of the marine environment. Please press your clubs, and organisations to respond to the green paper, and take time to respond yourself. (MAFF are collecting responses until the end of May, responses directly to the EU a bit later)

ACTION PLAN…you can download the green paper from: http://europa.eu.int/comm/fisheries/doc_et_publ/green1_en.htm

This needs to be done on the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (4.0). If you haven't got the latest up to date Reader, it can be downloaded for free from http://www.adobe.co.uk (around 5 Mb). The Green paper itself takes a while to download, be patient, it does appear eventually!

SFC Rules OK!

Do you know anything about your local Sea Fisheries Committee (SFC), as a recreational angler you should? These bodies are at the grass roots of fishery management, they are there to look after the interests of all stakeholders in the local stock, on how it is being managed, and now they are increasingly taking on an environmental/conservation role.

Employing Fishery Officers, and operating patrol vessels, SFC's are a valuable source of information, and to do their work effectively they need information from local people on the ground. Why not drop your local Sea Fisheries Committee a line asking them about their work, who on the committee is representing the interests of Recreational Sea Anglers, asking them to send you the minutes of the committee meetings (you will learn a lot of interest from them!).

(Southern Sea Fisheries have failed to answer most of my letters… Ed!)

ACTION PLAN…If my local committee is anything to go by, you should find them very helpful: a reasonably up to date list of local SFCs and contact details are on the
http://www.sacn.org.co.uk site

Quotas

Imagine that there was a trawler working your local beaches…there is? Well, imagine that this one is different. For a start it's unlicensed, and it never stops trawling. Night or day, seven days a week, it goes about its business of annihilating fish!

It totally ignores size limits, quotas and conservation measures introduced to ensure sustainability. Humble dabs, protected Allis shads and rare salmon, all are taken from the sea with an estimated daily catch of at least 200 million fish! And quite likely the number is ten to a hundred times higher! Every day of the week; every week of the year; its catch is then dumped and left to rot in a landfill site!

No, it's not the latest hi tech super-trawler; it's Sizewell B, Britain's newest conventional power station…just one of the many fish-killing power stations in place around our coasts. Some of our fish stocks are so depleted they now face extinction. Fishing communities and supporting industries are being devastated by lack of fish.

So why then is this environmental obscenity allowed to continue unchallenged? Because the country needs power, and there is no alternative!

Well there is at least one alternative, make the power stations air-cooled instead of water-cooled. It's already been done in New York State where there was a political will to end the needless slaughter.

If it can be done in America why not here, all it needs is the political desire to tackle the problem? We need someone in SACN to take on this issue…any willing volunteers out there? Who's looking after your interests?

ACTION PLAN…are you concerned about this problem? Contact SACN (SACN@Go-Fishing.co.uk) if you want to help put a stop the unnecessary slaughter of immature fish.

Well, I hope that you have been given enough to think about for now. By the time you read this, the summer species should be making an appearance…we hope! Go and do some fishing.

Tight Lines - Leon 

Marine Conservation Society: Annual Conference for Recreational Sea Anglers

An important reminder to end this edition of WaveMaker: the Annual Conference for Recreational Sea Anglers 2001 takes place at The University of Cardiff on Saturday 12th May 2001.

Following on from the highly successful inaugural Conference for Recreational Sea Anglers 2000, this event is supported by the Sea Anglers Liaison Committee (SALC) along with the Marine Conservation Society, and promises to be bigger and better!

Speakers include representatives from angling including our own members Leon Roskilly and Malcolm Gilbert, and the conservation and scientific communities. I also understand Mike Thrussell will be covering events as a reporter for Radio Five.

A wide range of topics of interest to both anglers and conservationists will be covered from angling and tourism, management of skates and rays, to cod and climate change. Highlights include the launch of a new ‘Conservation Code for Sea Anglers ’developed by National Angling Federations and Conservation Organisations. Launch of a leaflet and slide set developed by the Shark Trust and partners to raise awareness of ray conservation in Wales. There is also an exhibition of conservation and angling interest display materials.

Timetable

0900 - 0930: Registration and tea/coffee (30 minutes)

0930 - 0950: Welcome: Michael North on behalf of SALC and Hefyn Jones on behalf of WFSA (20)

0950 - 1100: Sea Angling and economics introduced by Malcolm Gilbert, BASS (70)

0950 -1000: Introduction Malcolm Gilbert (10)

1000 -1020: Harry Reeves, DCMS "Management of sport angling" (20)

1020 -1040: Carl James, CEMARE "Review of Economic valuations of Marine Recreational Angling in the UK" (20)

1040 - 1100: Malcolm Gilbert Q&A (20 minutes)

1100 -1130: Coffee Break (30)

1130-1300: Sea angling and conservation introduced by Mel Russ, Editor of Sea Angler Magazine (100)

1130 -1140: Introduction Mel Russ (10)

1140 - 1155: Chris Clark, Sea Angler "Sea Angling - How it is (15)

1155 -1215: Chris Uttley, CCW "Sea Anglers Conservation Code". (20)

1215 - 1230: Leon Roskilly, SACN "Sea Anglers Conservation Network -

Delivering the message" (15 min)

1230 -1245: Samantha Pollard, Director MCS "The Role of the Marine Conservation Society" (15)

1245 - 1300: Mel Russ Q&A (15 minutes)

1300-1400: Lunch (1 hour)

1400- 1545: Skates and Rays introduced by Hefyn Jones, WFSA (105)

1400 -1410: Introduction Hefyn Jones (10)

1410 -1430: Sarah Fowler, Shark Trust "Conservation/management of skates and rays - the wider picture" (20)

1430 -1450: Jim Ellis, CEFAS "Biology of Skates and Rays" (20)

1450-1505: Bill Little "Skate tagging program" (15)

1505 -1525: Phil Coates, Director S Wales SFC "Management - past, current and future" (20)

1525 -1545: Hefyn Jones Q&A (20 minutes)

1545 - 1615: Tea Break (30)

1615-1800: Cod and management issues introduced by Bernadette Clarke, MCS (105)

1615 -1625: Introduction Bernadette Clarke (10)

1625 - 1645: Christein Grieve, IEEP "Fisheries Management- An Australian perspective" (20)

1645 -1705: Roger Covey English Nature "No Take Zones in NZ" (20)

1705-1725: Carl O'Brien, CEFAS 'Cod and climate change" (20)

1725-1745:Sue Gubbay, Consultant "Area Closures and their impact for fisheries and sea anglers" (20)

1745 -1800: Bernadette Clarke Q&A (15 minutes)

1800: Conference ends/ doors closed by 1830. 

If you are an angler and/or have an interest in conservation and sustainable management fish stocks…this conference is for you! Please register your support and come along on the 12th May!

ACTION PLAN…for further details e-mail: bclarke@mcsuk.org or visit the Marine Conservation Society website at http://www.mcsuk.org/action/seangler01.html

If you haven’t already booked a place, please phone Bernadette on 01989 566017

Contact address: 9 Gloucester Rd, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 5B

Well that's just about it, I'll leave you to digest these items: A drop of ink may make a million think (Byron). Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realise that we cannot eat money (Cree Indian saying). And on the 7th April 2000, website http://www.gofish.com, had 14, 000,000 (million) tons of seafood on sale that day! (Source: National Geographic) 

Hope you've found something to interest you this month, back in a few weeks with a report on the MCS conference in Cardiff. If you have any items for future editions of WaveMaker please contact me at chris.pledge-iw@cwcom.net

Thanks, 

Chris



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