It’s time to fight the good fight. British conservation needs you! According to our recent Big Fishing Survey, just over half of anglers currently support conservation groups. But we’re hoping to encourage even more of you to get involved.
Looking after Britain’s waters is a big undertaking; we have over 4,000 miles of inland waterways alone. But there are also huge benefits. It means more fish, bigger fish, and a long-term future for fishing.
Anglers already play a vital role in British conservation simply by buying a rod licence. This income helps the Environment Agency protect the fisheries and it’s a great first step. But there’s always more to do.
So for those of you still on the fence, here are five reasons to get involved.
1 – Make sure fishing has a future
Supporting conservation doesn’t mean packing up your gear and surrendering to a life without fishing. It means protecting what we have, and making sure it lasts.
Take the marked decline in the number of salmon, for example. Over the past 20 years, the River Frome alone has seen a 70% decrease in the numbers of returning salmon.
But you can help reverse the trend. Your donation to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) will help fund research at the Salmon & Trout Research Centre, which currently monitors the situation and works towards combating the decline.
As the Marine Conservation Society UK (MCSUK) says of their work in Britain’s seas:
We need to manage our relationship with the sea in ways that allow the wealth of marine wildlife to thrive, now and for future generations. We must use this amazing resource wisely.
2 – Get your voice heard
Conservation groups bring important matters to the public’s and the government’s attention through lobbying and campaigning. If you’ve got an angling issue close to your heart, joining forces with them is a great way to bring about real change.
The battle against the declining Sea Bass population, for example, is spearheaded by the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society. You can show your support today by signing the petition on the Save our Sea Bass campaign website. And while you’re at it, take a look at their membership options to be part of their national and EU-wide push to protect the Sea Bass.
If the cleanliness of British seas is something you’re worried about, then the MCSUK, which lobbies for “cleaner seas, including better bathing water and less litter”, is the group for you.
Or take a look at the Wye Salmon Association if you’re a concerned local living around the River Wye. Your yearly or one-off donation will help them to:
“lobby agencies and bodies responsible for factors detrimental to the Wye environment… ”
The WSA encourage use of the skills, experience and knowledge of their supporters in identifying the changes required, and projects suitable for funding.
3 – Get your hands dirty
Many British conservation groups work at the grassroots level and are always keen for anglers to get involved. After all, the men and women who love fishing in British waters are the best people to protect them.
If you want to make a difference, think about volunteering your time with groups like the Wild Trout Trust. They’re committed to getting anglers involved:
“Many of our supporters are trout anglers, and many of the people we advise and give practical help are involved with fishing. Our experience is that enlightened fishermen are amongst the very best conservationists”
The Canal & River Trust is another top-notch organisation where you can regularly pitch in to keep the rivers clean with your fellow anglers. You can also help restore areas after damaging natural events like flooding, getting you back on the river to fish in no time at all.
4 – Inspire the next generation
Keen to inspire the next generation of anglers? Then it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and get more children fishing.
Your donation could help fund events like Family Fun Fishing Days, run by the Angling Trust and Get Hooked on Fishing. These free-to-attend events are a great way to introduce children to fishing. Or you could help the Countryside Alliance raise funds to run the Fishing for Schools programme, which helps disadvantaged children and teens gain skills and self-esteem through fly-fishing.
Getting more children fishing means even more anglers will be able to fight the good fight for British conservation in the future.
5 – Be in good company
Being a part of a conservation group is a lot of fun! In addition to the halo-gleaming goodness that comes from protecting British waters, you get to spend time with like-minded anglers. As UK BASS says:
“Membership of BASS is open to everyone, who shares our aspirations for the enjoyment and conservation of this beautiful fish. Members receive our quarterly magazine and are welcome to attend any fish-ins and to submit specimen captures for our trophies.”
“When I was looking for a pristine river in the UK to feature in a television series I failed to find one… This is why I encourage individuals to support the excellent work of the Salmon & Trout Conservation UK… by becoming a member.”
You’ll also get to enjoy plenty of perks when you join these groups. Your membership with the Angling Trust, for example, would include things like discounts on fishing venues, exclusive fishing competitions and even legal and insurance cover.
And with a Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust membership you’d get access to unique events and a complimentary magazine subscription. You could even take part in their ritzy members’ raffles to win prizes like a two-night holiday in a B&B.
Time to wade in
In the wise words of England rugby player and World Cup winner, Richard Hill:
“I advise anyone interested in the health of our rivers, lakes and fish to support… [conservation groups] by becoming members and joining the fight to preserve our environment and fisheries.”
So go ahead and get yourself a membership, or give one as a gift. Donate money to campaigns, sign petitions, or volunteer on your local canal. Support groups dedicated to protecting a particular species, like The Grayling Society, who tell us:
“For some years the Society has, each year, allocated a sum of money to be made available to suitable projects which will directly benefit the conservation of grayling anywhere in the world.”
But whatever you do, get involved and join the fight to protect Britain’s waters.
At the end of the day, anglers are “the eyes and ears of the aquatic environment”, as the Salmon & Trout Conservation UK points out. So take what you know and put it to good use supporting some of Britain’s best conservation organisations. It’s time to get your feet wet.