Dear Broads Anglers
Our news release on the 25th November has generated discussion on the future of Angling on the Broads and the idea of a Broads Fishery Permit to secure anglers rights in the future. Discussion naturally leads to rumors, and we would like to take this opportunity to clearly define the BASG stance on this.
Just over 20 years ago, a group of local Broads Anglers came together to work with the Environment Agency and Broads Authority to formulate a strategy to protect and improve the Broads Fishery. Eventually published as the Broads Angling Strategy this document fueled an era of collaboration between BASG, EA, BA and NE which resulted in some great achievements.
The last few years have seen the era of collaboration become less successful; austerity has hit the budgets of the organisations that supported our projects and personnel changes within these organisations has caused the loss of some of the cohesion that the success has been based upon.
In fact, the collaboration has hit an all-time low in the last few months, resulting in BASG having to take legal action against organisations that we believed were our partners.
When we end up in court protecting the Broads Fishery from the very people that are tasked to look after it, then there are clearly big problems with the structure.
It is quite clear that there is NO organisation that is looking after our fishery. Illegal fishing, pollution, over predation, misguided “conservation” and anti-social behavior are increasing with no apparent deterrent.
BASG sits on various steering groups, forums, and advisory panels. Not a single week passes without one of our members sitting around the table with BA, EA, NE, and other stakeholders.
What is abundantly clear from these meetings is that there are 3 main issues
- There is not sufficient income from angling to provide the protection and development of the Broads Fishery that anglers desire
- The idea of fishing rights not being owned means enforcement is restricted to fisheries offences and not a police matter.
- Non angling stakeholders don’t perceive the fishery has any value because Anglers are reluctant to pay for fishing on the Broads but will pay happily £100’s year to fish a private lake.
These 3 issues must be addressed to prevent the continual decline of the Broads Fishery. How we do that has been discussed for several years. Which is why back in 2018 we asked the Broads Anglers what they thought in a survey. Naturally a large majority believed that BA, EA and local authorities should pay to look after the Broads fishery, and for last two years we have been trying to use this as a lever to create more funding.
But the simple truth is that there is nowhere near the funding available, no matter how loud we bang the drum or what words we choose.
Without funding we can not expect the fishery to be protected, so if we want it protected, we have to do it ourselves. Unfortunately, the concept of the Broads Fishery being protected and sustained by rod licence revenue alone no longer works.
Thankfully we have been given a great opportunity to trial a different approach…
As many of us know, the “free” bank fishing at Postwick has been subject to anti-social behavior over the past few years, despite pleas to EA and the Police it has proved impossible to resolve the issue. BASG has been approached by the parish council for help in finding a resolution. If one cannot be found it is likely that fishing will be lost on this important stretch of river.
We are currently working with the council to scope out a Fisheries Permit for Postwick which would provide an improved legal framework to enforce against and prevent the loss of access to all anglers. It is important that anglers understand that BASG is a Community Interest Company, which means that any funds its raises are legally ring fenced purely for use within the community and not for the benefit of any individual.
If this scheme works then it would be natural to extend it to other areas as they become under threat of loss or when a landowner is looking to formalise the arrangements in place. Such a scheme would solve all 3 of the issues that we outlined earlier, it would generate revenue, create effective enforcement, and demonstrate that as Anglers we VALUE our fishery
Comparative fisheries across the UK, which includes the Fen’s, Tidal Trent and Severn, require angler contribution for effective management. The Broads fishery is no different. Permit schemes on these fisheries also mean the visiting angler contributes valuable funding. Currently the thousands of visiting Broads anglers each year don’t pay a single penny that protects or improves the broads.
Any change brings challenge, as for generations Broads angling has been free at the point of use. And of course perceived rights and opinions don’t just change overnight. Change is always challenging, but that challenge is no reason to sit back and watch the fishery that we love be neglected into oblivion.
We hope that the local angling community will support our continued efforts to protect the Broads Fishery, because if it’s not anglers, who else will?
Director(s) of BASG
27th Nov 2020