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Issue No 3 - July 2001

Jul 01,2001 Leon Roskilly


Welcome to Issue 3 of WaveMaker, newsletter of the Sea Anglers Conservation Network.

Editor's Mark

Disaster! - Chris Pledge, who took over the editorship of WaveMaker, has had to resign due to serious health problems.
Chris has worked hard for angling and for the need to conserve the marine environment, long before SACN was formed. I for one was hoping that he would fulfil the potential, as editor of WaveMaker, to make a real difference.
Feedback from the one issue of WaveMaker which Chris did put out was complementary and showed promise for the future, and I know that Chris had a lot of good ideas for taking the Newsletter forward.
Sadly, that wasn't to be and, until someone else steps forward to take over the reins, you are back to putting up with me.

Since the last edition, much has happened.

There has been a general election, and a shuffling of ministerial responsibilities. More new MPs and Ministers to educate on the important, underestimated and largely unrecognised economic and social benefits which Recreational Angling brings to society.

Angling lost a good and influential friend when Kate Hoey was replaced.

On the plus side MAFF is no more, but Elliot Morley retains responsibility for Fisheries (as well as picking up Animal Health & Welfare! I wonder if that will place in him a quandary, trying to placate both commercial fishermen and the dolphin campaign groups!)

The EU consultation on the Common Fisheries Policy is well under way.

If you do nothing else, please write to The Directorate General XIV, European Commission, Rue de la Loi 200, B-1049 Brussels, (email fisheries-greenpaper@cec.eu.int), pointing out that Recreational Angling is hugely important, both economically and socially, and deserves to be recognised as an equal stakeholder in the management of fish stocks. Every response received from an angler will count. (There's further information on the green paper, and responses made, on the SACN website). You have until September 30th 2001, to submit a full response, but please at least get a short response in now.

The NFSA vote for the introduction of Individual Membership was overwhelmingly in favour. It is vital that the scheme succeeds, and everyone pays their £10 a year. That will give a huge boost to angling's ability to carry on the fight.

I was invited to speak at the Marine Society Conference on Recreational Sea Angling in Cardiff. Not as many attended this conference as the first such conference last year, which is a shame as in my opinion, this year's conference was better still. The speakers were all good, and there was a lot of interesting information forthcoming. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to network with other angling conservationists, and movers and shakers from the various bodies, by travelling up the day before, and getting together the previous evening over a drink (or two!).

And lastly, please help to make my life easier. I know that many of you have thoughts in your minds, which you would like to share with other angling conservationists but, until you get around to putting pen to paper, they will just rattle around in your head, taking us nowhere. Get that article written, and submitted to WaveMaker, and you will be sharing your thoughts with others. Things you have to say will be taken up by other pens, ideas you are kicking around will start kicking around in other heads, and we shall move forward.

The more material you send in, the more often WaveMaker will be published, and the more I will be able to concentrate on other issues that need to be addressed.

Just a couple of paragraphs will be enough, if that's all that's needed.

Tight Lines - Leon Roskilly

A wasted trip?

When the kids were younger, not so long ago, we would often take the tent down to the Camping & Caravanning Club Site on the lower cliffs at Folkestone.

Waking up to the morning sunshine, the sound of the waves below, and the screeching of gulls was one of life's great pleasures. The thought of the bass patrolling those waves was an even greater pleasure.

Emerging from the tent, to take in the sights, as well as the sounds, from the vantagepoint halfway up the cliff, the initial view would all but take my breath away. I was able to see from the outer arm of Folkestone harbour, to Samphire Hoe, and across the sea to the white cliffs of Calais. My eyes would take in the large white ferries, crossing the straits, and the cargo vessels navigating across their paths.

Then I'd notice the smaller trawlers, crawling slowly across the sea's surface, straining at the cables disappearing into the depths below, sometimes accompanied by a flock of wheeling gulls.

Soon I'd notice the bobbing markers, showing where the gill nets were stretched along the beach below.

As I strained to see them through binoculars, it was with a slight sense of shock that I realised that the coast was netted as far as my eye could see.

I then understood why the bass I'd been catching were all so small.

I would have understood more if I'd known then what the pair trawlers had been up to in the southwestern approaches.

Still, there was still some sport to be had and enjoyed.

In the last few years, I've made the occasional trip back to Folkestone Warren, to practice my newer lure fishing skills. Always hopeful, and more often than not, rewarded by the sudden thump of a bass striking my lure, often right under the rod tip. Then I discovered the local mullet, close to my home in the Medway Towns, and the trips to Folkestone became less often.

A recent call from Phil Whiting stirred my memories, and found me heading back to Folkestone to meet him, when we both found some time to go fishing.

Phil fished lures, as he done for the previous three days. I float fished mackerel, hoping to take a gar or two, maybe some mackerel, as well as having the chance of a small bass. All good fun on light tackle.

Although conditions weren't ideal, we had both taken fish when they had been much worse.

My bait remained untouched, not a single bite. Phil completed a run of 4 fishless days in succession.

As we walked back along the Warren to our cars, I mused that we hadn't even seen a sign of fish being present. Nearly always before we had.

Mackerel leaping from the sea, pursued by bass, gulls wheeling down onto a shoal of whitebait, bass patrolling along the wall.

"Look! No gulls settling to roost on sea off Folkestone, there's usually a couple of hundred there." I said.

"And none along the Warren." Replied Phil. And I remembered how the flocks would take to the air as we strolled toward them.

I looked toward the sea, and could see no sign of the usual gill-net markers, nor could we remember having seen a trawler all day.

An unusual day perhaps, but one that chilled my heart with the feeling that unless we do something, this will become 'normality'.

I never thought that I'd ever be scanning the horizon with my eyes, hoping to see a trawler working.

Knocking on open doors, but who goes through?

When figures regarding the economic importance of Recreational Angling, the number of people who go angling, or the social importance of the Recreational Angling, are bandied about, I always sense a slight feeling of disbelief, even amongst those who are at the thick of campaigning. More so when the figures are compared with the value of the catch, and the number of people benefiting from the commercial fishing industry?

Why is that?

Why are we a hidden industry, more prominent by dint of the ubiquitous 'No Fishing' signs, than by any other form of publicity, aimed at the general public?

It's probably because the Recreational Angling 'Industry' is mostly a collection of many thousands of individual small businesses, usually run by one man and his dog, each employing just a handful of people.

Unlike other 'industries' there is no great unifying force, capable of delivery a 'national strategy for the future'.

Instead we have tackle shops hidden in a part of town where rates are low, and most casual shoppers don't go.

In fact, most of the economic beneficiaries of Recreational Angling probably have no idea that they play a part in such a huge economic activity.

Campsite operators probably notice the number of rods outside of tents and caravans, but don't tie in the empty pitches with the declining catches.

Neither do marina operators, as the anglers' dinghies are trailered out of the gates for the last time.

Nor the guy who maintains the outboards, the Insurance Company who collects the Marine Premium from anglers, etc etc.

But there is recognition that small businesses form the backbone of the economy, that Leisure and Tourism is the mainstay of the rural economy.

And there is a desperation, as the economics of farming and commercial fishing decline, to fill the gap.

Point out, just how important Recreational Angling is to those concerned with developing the regions, and ears prick up.

And the letters that you have been writing, having been making more ears prick up than ever before!

(If you've been discouraged from further letter writing by a trite or dismissive reply from a politico or official, don't give up. They may not appear to be listening, but your letters really are having an effect).

After years of begging to be listened to, and mostly being ignored. It's something of a novelty to find that the views of anglers, and their representatives, are actually being courted.

But that presents a dilemma of its own.

Having made a noise, and gained a hearing, we need to be in a position to follow that up.

Angling needs individuals able to prepare and present a case, able to negotiate in the face of opposition, people with time available who are prepared to travel, and attend meetings during the working day. And Angling needs to be able to finance the activities of such individuals.

If we can't do that, then all of our previous effort has been wasted.

From being individuals, minding our own business, moaning to each other at the end of a pier, or on some windy beach, we need to gather our power together, gaining strength in association.

The 'Unity of Angling' project, culminating in the formation of the National Angling Alliance, is taking us forward in that direction, so too will the successful introduction of Individual Membership to the NFSA. And so too is the work of Malcolm Gilbert, and other anglers, in drawing together those with a commercial interest in angling.

We also need to gather together real and verifiable hard facts, to support our case.

Without those, then what we have to say becomes merely anecdotal, and the ears which we have worked so hard to prick up, will become deaf again.

Gathering those facts doesn't come cheap. In one way or another anglers will have to pay the price, or continue watching helplessly as our fishing goes down the pan.

I know that many have the feeling that having won the argument, it is up to 'them' to do something about it. But life isn't like that. 'Them' don't give a damn, only we do, and it is up to us, having come so far, to carry the battle onward, to make the most of the considerable achievements so far, or to risk giving up with victory in sight.

The good news is that, in my opinion, the hard bit has been all but achieved.

Now that we are being listened to, and welcomed, if we have the resources to take advantage of it, we can achieve much of what we have been demanding. We can face the future with hope, rather than with desperation and despair. And that in itself will make our future efforts enjoyable and even more effective.

Anglersnet and the SACN

The SACN WebPages are hosted free on the Anglersnet website. That's one of the reasons why membership of SACN can be offered for free.

The web pages perform a number of functions. Firstly they act as a shop window for SACN to the world. Secondly they allow us to present information, not only to SACN members and readers of WaveMaker, but anyone who has an interest in Recreational Angling and Conservation (both our friends and our 'enemies'!) That they are read by a much wider readership, around the world, I know full well. Thirdly, they contain information and links, useful to anyone involved in campaigning.

Although directed at Sea Angling Conservation in particular, I know that others have found the information resources on the SACN WebPages useful.

But Anglersnet is much more than the hugely important SACN pages.

Although the greater site is used more by our coarse angling brethren, there is a lot of information of use to sea anglers posted there.

And as well as the many interesting and informative articles, there are the forums.

If you are looking for a piece of information, try posting a question there.

Through the usual banter, and good-humoured debate, on the Sea Fishing and Conservation Forums, a lot of very useful ideas and information is passed around. Fancy going fishing with a bunch of slightly mad individuals? There's nearly always someone organising a fish in, where experts and beginners can share knowledge and experiences.

Given the huge contribution which Anglersnet makes toward the SACN, I'm always a little surprised that the SACN membership doesn't make more use of the greater facilities on offer on Anglersnet. Or maybe you are all posting on the forums under pseudonyms?

Anyway, I'd appreciate any feedback you might have on the SACN WebPages. Is there any information that you'd like to be added? Any links to other sites, useful from the point of view of angling conservation, you'd like to see included? Fancy writing an article (or two) about your favourite method, bait preparation, rig etc? Just drop an email to SCAN Go-Fishing.co.uk.

The more the main site has to offer sea anglers, through articles, and debate on the forums, the more sea anglers will be attracted to the site, and the more they will find their way to the SACN pages and hopefully, the more they will be inspired to start fighting for their fishing.

Got something to say about anything published here? Why not visit the Anglersnet Forums and give your views and opinions.

No Fishing - By Order

It's my great misfortune to be the only angler in a family of five. Somehow I failed my kids in educating them to the art of angling. (Perhaps sub consciously, I didn't want them to grow up loving a pastime seemingly under constant threat).

Anyway when we go on a family holiday, I always manage to manoeuvre events so that we end up somewhere where there's at least a chance of using a rod and line.

Myself having failed to bring up the kids as anglers, my wife has filled the void in their lives by turning them into enthusiastic holiday shoppers!

Wherever we holiday, there is the succession of trips to local towns; hours spent browsing around local gift shops, eating in restaurants, purchasing bargains.

This is when I turn into a miserable old git!

The only solution to my bad humour, is for the family to park me at the end of the local pier, where they can pay me the occasional visit to collect more of the spending stuff ("we thought you might like an ice-cream. Oh! And could you give me £10 so that the kids can play on the dodgems?).

Now it's amazing just how many towns have passed their piers over to a private operator to run.

By and large anglers don't contribute a great deal to the profit of the pier. In fact they are mostly regarded as a bloody nuisance by the operators. So up go the 'No Fishing' signs!

I wonder how many surveys, conducted by the local chamber of commerce, in trying to find why so many families prefer shopping at the town down the coast, ask 'Would you spend more time shopping here if their were a lot more fish to catch, and places to catch them from?'

I wonder how many families, like mine, have at least one angler as a member, making fishing a priority in deciding where to spend the family holiday money?

I wonder how many shopkeepers would be up in arms, if they realised just how much trade those 'No Fishing' signs, and the local trawlerman was costing them?

Next time you see a 'No Fishing' sign on the pier, why not write and tell them?

Angling - The Hidden Pastime

We anglers like our peace and quiet. We prefer to go to deserted beaches and quiet stretches of river to enjoy our pastime. Part of the magic of angling is 'getting away from it all', whether far out of sea, on the banks of some remote loch, or a casting from the concrete platforms of a coastal industrial estate.

The general public may occasionally see us, dangling a line from a pier, or a single figure precariously perched on rocks above the breaking swell. So, who can blame them for thinking of angling as a pastime pursued by a few odd loners?

And the policy makers and politicians share that perception.

Buy a newspaper, the back pages are full of football, golf etc. Turn on the television and you will see horses galloping to the overexcited commentary of a commentator. Spin the radio dial, and hear the quite commentary from a cricket match.

Ask any none angler to name Britain's most popular participant sports, and angling doesn't feature. That's how much impression that angling makes on the public consciousness.

So who can blame the programme planners at the BBC, desperate to fund popular programmes, with big stars, to think of pruning Britain's only National Radio programme aimed at anglers?

That they are thinking of axing Nick Fisher's Dirty tackle, come next spring, is bad enough for the anglers prepared to miss the early start to the usual weekend fishing session and tune into BBC Radio 5 Live at 6am on Saturday morning. But just think of the message that sends to our planners and politicians!

Angling becomes more 'hidden' than before.

Three million or so Anglers simply don't warrant a half-hour slot each week, well out of peak listening time.

Perhaps those planners at the BBC have missed the growing realisation, now spreading through other corridors, that angling is huge. Millions of anglers, contributing billions of pounds to the UK economy annually, and paying millions to the BBC in licence fees, deserve better.

Perhaps a few emails and letters from WaveMaker readers will make them think twice about axing the show.

At the same time, suggest that they make archives of the programme available on the BBC website, so that anglers can download and listen to the programme whenever it suits them, from any time zone, and especially when they return from that important early Saturday morning BASS session.

A good starting point for contacting the BBC is:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/feedback/

Ask them to work out how much revenue the BBC gets from anglers' Licence Fees.

Shouldn't they be providing more angling programmes, rather than considering axing the only National Radio programme we currently have?

Climate Change

UK anglers from the more northern parts of our islands are probably rubbing their hands in expectation, as the range of bass creeps steadily northwards.

Increased catches of small bass, further southward, hint at how good sport will be, if only we can stop the pair trawlers taking most of the sizeable fish as they gather for their first spawning.

The ever more regular reports of species, previously alien to our shores, quickens the heart of those striving to reach the record books, and mullet men look forward to increased growth rates of their favourite fish.

All thanks to global warming.

But we may all be living in a fool's paradise. Our efforts to save the bass stocks from the pair trawlers may amount to no more than fiddling while Rome burns.

I'm sure you have all heard the alarmist theories of what will happen if increased warming leads to the switching off of the 'Atlantic Conveyor', which drives the Gulf Stream, raising the mean temperature of Europe by some 10C. England will become more like Alaska, than the Southern Mediterranean climate we are all hoping for.

Stefan Rahmstorf, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has said that the first signs of a slowing of the North Atlantic circulation have now been seen. He is quoted (in New Scientist) as saying that 'Until three weeks ago I would have had to admit that this was a purely theoretical calculation, but now we have received data showing that the current has decreased by 20 per cent since 1950." Scary stuff!

Let's all put our heads back into the sand shall we? After all, there's not much we can do about it, is there?

SACN & WaveMaker

If you are reading this, and aren't already a member of the SACN, then why not join us? Membership is free!

You can join by downloading a membership application form from the website, and mailing it back to us.

In between newsletters, a lot of useful information is shared between the membership, but you need to join the network to take part.

Even if you don't want any more involvement than getting the newsletter each time it's issued, you can choose that as your membership option. Having you as a registered member increases the influence of SACN when dealing with other bodies, and we can always email you if there's something really important that needs your attention.

Of course, you don't have to be a member of SACN to receive the newsletter. If you aren't already included in the WaveMaker cc list, just email me and I'll make sure that you are added. And if you know of anyone else who you'd like to see WaveMaker sent to, email me with their email address, and I'll add them too.

Thanks, 

Leon




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