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Would you be prepared to pay more to have a bigger say?

Martin Salter, the Government's Parliamentary Spokesman for Angling and Shooting (right), is suggesting that an additional £1.00 could be added to the cost of Environment Agency Rod Liceneces to give the sport a more powerful voice with decision makers.

On his website www.martinsalter.co.uk he says: "For a long time I have believed that angling in this country needs a strong and powerful voice to speak up on the issues that affect our sport. I also want to see a more professional approach to the structure and governance of angling to enable Britain's most popular participant sport to properly punch its weight. At the moment we are the poor relations when compared to countries such as France, Holland or America.

"However, all of this will cost money and it is high time that we had a thorough debate within angling on how we raise sufficient funds to pay for the services we need. Currently we have just a handful of paid staff working for organisations such as the National Federation of Anglers, the Salmon and Trout Association, the National Federation of Sea Anglers, the Anglers Consultative Association and the umbrella body, FACT.

"Just take a look at the equivalent body for shooting, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation which has nearly 100 paid staff looking after the interests of less than one million shooters in Britain.

"How on earth can we compete with the likes of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or the British Canoe Union on issues such as cormorant predations or river access if we haven't the people or resources to properly make the case to the Government, the media and the public at large?

"Last month I organised an important stakeholders meeting with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the subject of Killer Herpes Virus and was struck by how many of angling's representatives sat round the table were volunteers taking the day off work and travelling to London at their own expense. This is simply ridiculous for a sport that claims 3.5 million participants.

There are a number of ways to raise funds and a voluntary levy on the rod licence, of say £1.00 is one option worthy of consideration. I want to know what anglers think which is why I am encouraging this debate. Please email me your views to salterm@parliament.uk

I've set out some of the work that could benefit from an increased funding stream. This is not an exhaustive list and I would welcome other suggestions.

What could be achieved:

A single powerful voice with the Government, Parliament, the Environment Agency, NGOs and other stakeholders
Positive recognition of the fact that 3.5 million people enjoy recreational fishing and its contribution to a social and healthy lifestyle
Positive recognition of the £3.5 billion contribution angling makes to the English and Welsh economy each year and how this could grow with a more professional approach to its development
Professional advice on accessing funding opportunities for angling projects
Efficient use of the funding which goes into angling representation, enabling the creation of a thoroughly professional influencing organisation
An improved aquatic environment; what is good for fish is also good for other life forms
Stronger leadership and accountability within angling and fisheries
Promotion of angling and fisheries
Professional support for angling organisations
Legal advice

It is perfectly true to state that as yet there are no plans to introduce a levy, either voluntary or compulsory. There are also a range of practical issues that need addressing, including the role of existing angling governing bodies, legal status and lines of accountability.

However, I firmly believe that the time is right to ask these questions and find out what anglers really think. Are they prepared to pay less than the cost of half a pint of maggots to help improve the prospects for their sport? Let's have the debate.


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