Which Angling Conservation Groups Would You Join?

Image source: Fishtec Blog Our waters are worth looking after.

Image source: Fishtec Blog
Our waters are worth looking after.

Fishing conservation goes beyond buying a rod license. Yet 56% of anglers don’t support any kind of conservation group, according to a recent Fishtec survey.

Anglers tend to care about the environment than most people, but there’s always more to do. To help you get involved, we’ve shortlisted some of the best UK fishing conservation groups and highlighted some of the great work they do.

If you’re not sure what else to add to your Christmas list, add membership to one of these groups. It’s the ideal way to give your support.

Wild Trout Trust

fish pass

Image source: wildtrout.org
The WTT team install a fish pass on the River Hamble

Did you know the British Brown trout is more genetically diverse than the whole human race put together? Check out the Wild Trout Trust website for all everything you ever wanted to know about one of our favourite fish.

Fancy getting your hands wet (and dirty) in the name of conservation? If so the Wild Trout Trust is for you. A grassroots organisation dedicated to looking after the nation’s wild trout, here you’ll also find a wealth of opportunities to get stuck in.

And there are plenty of resources for anyone who just wants to gen up on UK river ecosystems. The Wild Trout Trust isn’t an angling organisation – but as you’d expect, many of its members are avid anglers. Tempted to join this enthusiastic community of river guardians? We don’t blame you.

Salmon and Trout Conservation UK

salmon run

Image source: salmon-trout.org/
Salmon running the Hampshire Avon – numbers still need to rise

Would it surprise you to learn that less than a quarter of rivers in England and Wales meet the Government’s own “good ecological status”? It’s because of the degradation of river environments that salmon runs are down by as much as 80% over the past 20 years.

If you think it’s time to do something to reverse the damage to our rivers, Salmon and Trout Conservation UK offers a chance to learn more, and lend a helping hand. There’s a blog too, which offers fascinating insights into the work of the charity – if you thought black box recorders were only for the aviation industry, think again.

First formed in 1903, the S&TC UK campaigns for sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. As a conservation minded angler, make sure you check out their section on how you can do your bit.

The Canal and River Trust

canal fishing

Image Source: canalrivertrust.org.uk
Canal fishing remains possible because of the CRT’s dedicated work

“We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.” As an angler you’re sure to appreciate the work of the Canal and River Trust.

They’re the charity that cares for 2000 miles of rivers and canals across the country.
And because they also look after the vast network of bridges, embankments, towpaths, aqueducts, docks and reservoirs, they’re always looking for people willing to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.

Of course you can always show your appreciation for the charity’s work by becoming a friend of the Trust. In return, you’ll receive discounts at Trust museums and attractions, a free magazine, book of “CoolCanals” walks and a pin badge and car sticker!

Shark Trust

Basking shark

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Basking shark are regular visitors to UK waters

Often demonised for their sharp toothed savagery, if you’ve ever wondered who is standing up for this vital apex predator, wonder no more. The Shark Trust has been helping to save the shark through education, influence and action since 1997.

If you’re a sea angler or just someone who loves to visit the coast, you can help the Shark Trust by joining in the ‘great eggcase hunt’. It’s a data gathering exercise to establish the distribution and abundance of egg cases from shark, ray and skates

The info will help scientists work out the best places to campaign for protected nurseries. So what are you waiting for? Check out the Shark Trust website for more details and get hunting.

Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society

bass

Image source: ukbass.com
An 11 – six bass, released without being landed

UK Bass is all about anglers looking out for the interests of the fish they love to catch. Members adhere to a rigorous code of conduct, sticking to the society’s 48cm size limit for fish caught for the table and recommending a maximum take of two fish per day and only ten a year.

Even if you’re not thinking of joining, it’s worth thinking about adopting the same policy. Bass stocks really are under pressure so it’s up to all anglers to do their bit. If you’d like to get involved, UK Bass supports the SOS Save Our Sea bass campaign.

Members get a quarterly magazine, but anyone visiting the site has access to a wealth of information about bass. This is a must for sea anglers.

Marine Conservation Society

mcsuk beach clean

Image source: Lauren Davis, mcsuk.org
MCSUK members on the Great British Beach Clean

“Our seas are under immense pressure: too many fish are being taken out, too much rubbish is being thrown in and too little is being done to protect our precious marine wildlife and vital fish stocks.”

Agree? You’ll be interested in the work of the Marine Conservation Society. Check out their beach clean map to find an event near you, or if wildlife spotting is your thing, there’s a ‘report your sightings’ page that tells you what to spot and where to record it.

And if you want to make sure the fish you eat is sustainable, make sure you check out the Fish Online section for the lowdown on the fish on the end of your fork.

Angling Trust

gravel riffle angling trust

Image source: anglingtrust.net
Angling Trust members creating a gravel riffle to aid spawning habitat

The national governing body for all angling, the Angling Trust fights against pollution, over-fishing, over-abstraction, poaching and many other other threats to angling.

And the Trust battles to keep fisheries open too. If you’ve noticed new signs on the harbour wall or town pier, by the banks of a town centre river or canal – banning fishing, it’s good to know someone is standing up for anglers’ rights.

Competitive angler? Check out the competition news page for results and write ups from comps across the country.

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

parr tagging

Image source: gwct.org
Tagging parr in Frome

Good land management and healthy rivers go hand in hand, which is why the work of the Game and Wildlife Trust matters to us as anglers.

Affiliated to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, GWCT believe passionately that those who enjoy shooting and fishing have a valuable part to play in conserving the countryside for future generations.

The Trust employs over 100 scientists and staff and currently run over 60 research projects often in collaboration with universities. All that work costs money, much of which comes from members’ subscriptions. If you’d like to join you’re sure to be warmly received and the Trust is always on the lookout for volunteers.

Blue Ventures

octopus fisherman

Image source: copyright Garth Cripps/ Blue Ventures
Not the average river catch…

The octopus fishermen of Madagascar owe the resurgence of their vital, life sustaining fishery to a small charity dedicated to helping coastal communities in the tropics manage their marine resources with conservation in mind.

When charity workers persuaded one village to temporarily close a section of reef for fishing, octopus stocks bounced right back. Now the practise has gone viral with communities up and down the coast copying the strategy to great effect.

With marine conservation a hot topic here in the UK, the work of this group is very relevant to those of us who fish in cooler climes too. Big change can indeed grow from small changes. As the guys at Blue Ventures say: “taking less from our ocean can give us much much more.

The Rivers Trust

 river angling

Image source: riverstrust.org
River angling – what better way to spend a day?

With river trusts popping up all over the country, the Rivers Trust is an umbrella body which offers the opportunity for affiliates to share information and resources. As an Angler, you’ll be interested in the work of the organisation because of its role in developing ideas, best practices and policy guidance.

You’ll find a host of resources here including this excellent animated guide to the water cycle – great for educating your kids. And there’s a newsletter you can sign up to receive – great for keeping up to date with the Trust’s work around the country.

The Rivers Trust has a reputation as a body of doers who like to get their feet wet, and no wonder because anglers are among the core members of many rivers trusts around Britain. If you’d like to know more, make sure you checkout the projects page to see all the projects with which the Trust is currently involved.

The Grayling Society

grayling fishing

Image source: graylingsociety.net
Idyllic grayling fishing

Here’s a great opportunity to deepen your knowledge of one of our most beautiful wild game fish. The Grayling Society has been working since 1977 to keep like minded anglers informed about grayling conservation and fishing.

Becoming a member is a great way to forge links with fellow grayling enthusiasts both here and around the world.

And if you’d like to learn more about catching the ‘lady of the stream’, there’s an informative angling page, complete with video on how to catch the beautiful grayling.

The Riverfly Partnership

mayfly

Image source: riverflies.org
The mayfly – a common sight on our rivers

They’re often called the “canary of the river”, and with good cause too. River flies and invertebrates are at the heart of the river ecosystem. A vital link in the aquatic food chain, with no flies, there would be no fly fishing.

So thank goodness there’s an organisation committed to looking after the interests of this often neglected aspect of river conservation.

How would you like to contribute to keeping our waterways teeming with healthy insect life? The Riverfly Partnership provides one-day workshops to fishing clubs and other groups to help you monitor and report on the biological quality of your local rivers.

Countryside Alliance

CA-fishing-lesson

Image source: Countryside Alliance
A fishing lesson from the Countryside Alliance

If you live in a rural area or even if you don’t you’ll be surprised just how much work the group does campaigning for better policing, planning, affordable housing, fuel and digital communications for the countryside.

Far from being a one issue organisation, the Countryside Alliance is all about traditional values, thriving rural communities, and economies and sustainable countryside management. With over 100,000 members the Alliance represents the interests of a broad swathe of countryside lovers.

And as an angler, you’ll appreciate the work of the Alliance’s Foundation, which gives young people the chance to try their hand at fishing through its Fishing for Schools programme. The Countryside Alliance is a great organisation well worth a look.

Wye Salmon Association

learning to fish

Image source: Wye Salmon Association
Learning to fish on the Wye

Until the early 1990s, the annual rod catch of salmon in the Wye would regularly hit the 7000 mark. By 2010, that figure had plummeted to just 450 fish. but now the Wye Salmon Association is fighting back.

There’s not much they can do about global warming or sea survival, but they can influence what happens in the Wye valley. The Association campaigns tirelessly to return the river to its former glory.

The website’s news page makes for interesting reading – a true snapshot of the myriad issues that river conservationists face. From hatchery and stocking debates to poaching, it’s a real eye opener and relevant to anglers everywhere.

National Anguilla Club

chris mason eel

Image source: National Aguilla Club
NAC member Chris Mason with a fine catch!

And now for something completely different! How about trying your hand at eel angling? The National Anguilla Club was formed in 1962 and is one of the Nation’s oldest single specimen associations.

Back in the 60s there were 95% more eels than there are now, and while the Anguilla Club has always been interested in the study of this extraordinary and intriguing creature, these days the club is very much a conservation group.

But that doesn’t mean they no longer fish for our slippery friends, just that they always practise catch and release. A fantastic resource for anyone interested in the life of one of the most enigmatic inhabitants of our rivers and streams.

The Barbel Society

barbel

Image source: Barbel Society
Avon barbel double and rod of choice

Angers are often conservationists too, and the fishermen of the Barbel Society surely number among the most passionate advocates of sustainable fisheries. The founding members of the organisation realised way back in the early 1990s that widening participation in the sport had to go hand in hand with effective management strategies to limit the pressure on the aquatic environment and fish stocks.

This website reflects the wide ranging interests of barbel anglers. You can read back issues of Barbel Fisher magazine, catch up with Society news through the e-newsletter and hone your barbelling knowledge and skills

There’s even an informative barbel handling video so you can make sure your prize catch returns to the water unharmed to grow even bigger. A great resource.