Well, where should I start? It’s been a long time since my last blog. Things are developing rapidly on all fronts and it is great to see more people coming aboard to help build the foundations necessary to protect fish and fisheries, and develop an environment where anglers work together to achieve the same aim. From my perspective there is even more good news to celebrate – more and more migrant anglers are joining our fight and offering their time to help on all fronts.
The last few months in particular have seen massive changes around the Building Bridges project. Last November, I was joined by two new part-time Project Officers: Polish angler Patrycja Bury, who has lived in the Midlands for over eight years and is both a passionate angler and an angling community organiser, and Lithuanian angler Martynas Pranatias, a long-standing Angling Trust Volunteer Bailiff, who lives in SE and brings experience from Lithuania’s fisheries enforcement authority – foir which he worked before moving to the UK. Help from both these dedicated new recruits is priceless – especially with the ever increasing amout of work and because I myself reduced my working hours due to other personal commitments. All three of us have new, fresh ideas which we are already starting to implement.
During the same period, Building Bridges project was fully embedded in to the new Angling Trust Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, run in partnership with and to support the Environment Agency. It is an important thing, as work undertaken by National Fisheries Enforcement Manager, Dilip Sarkar, our team of six dedicated Regional Enforcement Managers and new Voluntary Bailiffs recruited all around the country, are closely connected. There is no way that Building Bridges on its own would achieve all of the planned objectives without help and involvement from our new and existing enforcement forces.
All working together Adrian Brightley and Adrian Saunders of the Environment Agency (extreme and second right); Building Bridges Project Manager Rado Papiewski (third right) and his new Building Bridges Project Off
Due to the nature and scope of changes, we decided that our project needed a new, fresh, look and approach. Martynas’s involvement means that we have now good access to the migrant Lithuanian community in England; problems with Chinese anglers reported on regular basis, however, made us develop some material in Chinese; a Bulgarian volunteer is helping organise some activities within that community. This means that we are no longer dealing predominantly with the Polish community (we never did, in fact, but lots of our work was directed towards them due to the fact that my roots are in Poland and it was much easier for me to do that). We are actually working alongside a much wider network and it is right to say that our new vision is to develop a ‘Fishing Without Borders’ concept. Our new Facebook page is dedicated to any activities concerning the international angling community, encouraging a multicultural approach to our sport which helps explain different angling rules in order to integrate anglers – which was always the most important objective of Building Bridges project.
In terms of the work on the ground, we are achieving some important initial successes. Patrycja has started developing a very good relationship with the Polish media and doing a lot of work creating a fishing guide, which will be translated and publicised in the press. She is also working with several clubs who requested that an integration fishing event be organised on their waters, because there are many migrants fishing on their waters already. Our new events calendar should be available very soon, once a few more details are finalised.
Martynas has engaged with several fantastic Lithuanian anglers who are now in the process of developing their own angling club which will represent Lithuanian Anglers in the UK. This should be a fantastic means of two-way communication.
We are also starting to work with ex-pat Saturdays schools in the country. The initial stage covers a fishing related competition organised for our next generation anglers. Second phase will see practical fishing training sessions provided by volunteers. This is a perfect opportunity to sell the concept of sport fishing for future anglers who might not necessarily have been introduced to catch and realise practices. We have looked for help from migrant businesses to help us to run this activities and the early, positive, response from some of them been very encouraging.
The expansion of the Voluntary Bailiff Service programme is having a big impact on migrant communities, with more and more migrant anglers applying to join. I am actually writing this blog during one of the VBS induction days and am happy to confirm that there are at least three names in here originating from some of the European countries.
I am also pleased to confirm that we have managed to secure some extra money from Heritage Lottery Founding and to become a partner with Nene Valley Partnership. Under this partnership we are delivering fishing related integrational activities around Nene Valley. This means that we will be employing another part time project officer to work in this region – which means more support for local anglers! We are also taking part in another similar bid in another region – so let’s keep fingers crossed.
As always, interest form the national and regional media is always high around the subject of migrant anglers and we take every possible opportunity to raise awareness. We have filmed a documentary about project activities with Polish National TV, and Dilip and Martynas appeared on Lithuanian National TV. This way we can raise awareness within communities back in their own countries so they can become aware even become they come to visit or live in the UK. We recently worked with the BBC ‘Inside Out’ show to produce a short documentary explaining the issues we have, which is well worth watching and starts around 11.30:-
Finally I would like to go back to the beginning! The coarse close season is approaching very soon. Do not take a chance so ‘Sign Up for a Close Season’. Permanent signs and pdf files are available from the Angling Trust free of Charge. The only thing we would ask you to do in return is to send us a picture of such a sign in place and name of the club displaying this sign. Lack of knowledge is the most common excuse used by anglers in the wrong doing and signs will make your job easier as well as become a vital evidence if you have to take your case in to legal proceedings. There is a limited number of permanent signs available so get touch with us as quick as possible via email firstname.lastname@example.org. We have also developed a multilingual signs for still waters and they can also be requested via the same way.
As you can imagine our increased workload has had a massive effect on my fishing these days. Few free hours become a luxury which is normally available during the worst possible weather conditions ever! This means my fishing have been reduced and I believe that my fishing rods are really upset with me! I have managed to spend one day with my friend on the boat at Pitsford Reservoir. It was very slow day and I only managed to land one decent pike! I am looking forward to my week off very soon and at the moment I am enjoying my average ratio of fishing trips v fish caught! End of the day there are no blanks for me this year so far!!!!