Forums for Change

The types of organisations that can have a key influence on our fisheries and fish stocks are many and varied. Government bodies such as The Environment Agency, CEFAS and Natural England, 3rd sector organisations like Rivers Trusts and Wildlife Trusts and business organisations such as water companies and the farming sector all have a role to play. It’s important that angling communicates well with all these influential groups, and on a national level, that’s something that is a key role of the Angling Trust. However influence at the National level is only part of the picture, it’s also vital that angling communicates well at a regional level too as so many key decisions are taken on the ground, locally. That’s where our Angling Trust Regional Forums come into their own.

Kevin Pearson the Angling Trust Midlands Region Enforcement Manager presenting at the East Midlands Forum in Nottingham this November.

Kevin Pearson the Angling Trust Midlands Region Enforcement Manager presenting at the East Midlands Forum in Nottingham this November.

We now run around 32 forums a year right around the country. From Newcastle down to Kent and pretty much everywhere in between. What we try to achieve with these meetings is that they are true forums, not boring committee meetings or rambling focus groups but well structured, interesting and informative meetings where key information can be shared and anglers and angling clubs get the chance to ask questions and seek answers.

The meetings are chaired by local anglers and the topics covered at the meetings are agreed in advance by local anglers who form part of our Regional Forum Development Groups. We are also looking to introduce annual questionnaires to ensure all anglers who want to can have a say in setting the agendas.

A typical forum will be held in a Community Hall or well located Hotel. They usually start at around 7pm with tea and coffee being served and a chance to chat to other anglers before the meeting get’s underway at 7.15pm and most forums finish around 9.15pm. The Agenda will usually consist of three or four presentations on subjects that were agreed on by the local development group. Likely topics might be around enforcement issues, habitat and fish stock improvement, combatting predation, protecting against invasive species and pollution issues or anything else that is of of concern or offers a chance to improve the fishing locally. After each presentation there is a Q&A session where anglers get to ask direct questions of the invited speakers to help clarify issues or raise concerns.

There is always plenty of chat after the forum as anglers and speakers take the opportunity to catch up.

There is always plenty of chat after the forum as anglers and speakers take the opportunity to catch up.

The Forums also offer anglers the chance to get involved in projects and take a pro-active role in improving fish stocks and local fishing. Our West Midlands Forum would be a great example of this as we have seen anglers getting engaged in a number of projects that have been showcased at the local forum which is held twice a year at Ombersley, near Worcester. Tony Bostock of the Severn Rivers Trust gave a presentation at the forum and described how he was keen to run a Severn Roach Project that would see artificial spawning boards sited in key areas of the river to replace lost weed growth and he soon found he had a number of enthusiastic anglers involved in the project. Similarly when Dilip Sarkar of the Angling Trust and Brecht Morris of the Environment Agency gave a presentation about a proposed Pike and Zander monitoring study on local rivers, they soon had good numbers of anglers signing up and getting involved. It’s just this sort of partnership working and good communication that makes the forums so vital.

Brecht Morris of the Environment Agency shows a group of volunteers how to take scale samples for the Severn Predator Study Project.

Brecht Morris of the Environment Agency shows a group of volunteers how to take scale samples for the Severn Predator Study Project.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to know how rod licence money is spent locally ?
  • Am I interested in what work is being done to improve fish stocks on rivers and stillwaters ?
  • Would I like to know what the Angling Trust is doing about predation, poaching and pollution ?
  • Might I be interested in getting involved with a local project which will improve my fishing ?
  • Do I care about fishing in my area ?

If the answer to any of those question is yes, then it’s well worth getting along to your local forum meeting.

For details of where your nearest forum is held log on to our regions webpages at :   www.anglingtrust.net/regions

Or for more details contact our National Regions Manager John Cheyne via email john.cheyne@anglingtrust.net

The Forums are run for anglers by anglers. Our National Regions Manager, John Cheyne is a fanatical angler and a fishing club chairman.

The Forums are run for anglers by anglers. Our National Regions Manager, John Cheyne is a fanatical angler and a fishing club chairman.

2 thoughts on “Forums for Change

  1. How local could I expect a forum meeting to be? Do you have any money for future improvement projects? Do you intend to work alongside the West Country Rivers Trust who have been heading up our Catchment Based Plans for the past few years or are your plans in addition to all that is going on in this part of the country? As you can perhaps tell, I am not at all convinced that your good intentions will bring about lasting Improvements to our fisheries here in the far south west. I have been witness to meetings, talks, forums, plans and more plans since 2009. The Water Framework Directive has seen us take the Government to court with very little achieved on the ground to maintain our water environment. Now we see the EA trying to function without any finance and an expectation that volunteers will do their job for us. I am not a happy bunnie for I can’t see things improving any time soon. Please tell me that I am wrong!!

    Regards, Rod.Dibble President, Launceston Angler’s Association

    • Hi Rod, You can expect one in Cornwall soon, and yes we have money for improvements. The forums are very much there as a chance for Anglers to engage with organisations like the West Country Rivers Trust, rather than provide an alternative. They are also an important chance to hear how the EA is spending your rod licence money and get the chance to question the Angling Trust about the work we are doing for anglers. Up till now we haven’t run a forum as far SW as Cornwall, but in 2016 we will be holding a forum in your area, so you will get the chance to attend one and judge for yourself. I won’t pretend that Forums will suddenly solve all your problems or magically heal our rivers, but having a face to face way of engaging with the EA, AT and orgs like WCRT all in the same room at the same time has to be a good way to get questions answered and bring the right people together to get real improvements. Thank you for taking the time to make a comment..it’s very much appreciated.

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