Litter – Anglers can make a huge difference

With the government making announcements about tackling the amount of plastics in our seas and rivers, the banning of micro-beads in cosmetics and new rules around the use of carrier bags and food packaging in the offing, litter and plastic litter in particular is very much in the news at the moment.

As anglers we spend far more time on the riverbank, lakeside, canal towpath and by the coast than the average person and that presents both opportunity and risk when it comes to litter. Anglers have more opportunity that most to leave litter in our precious natural environment, but thankfully the vast majority of anglers show their love of the outdoors by making sure they take their rubbish home. There are a few who don’t though and there’s few things more annoying than turning up in your chosen swim to find empty groundbait bags, hook packets, beer cans and sandwich wrappers have been left there by a previous angler.

Rubbish collected by my colleague Ian Shepherd during a session on the Warwickshire Avon

Thankfully anglers who dump litter like this are fairly rare and the vast majority of litter found on the waterside is dropped by non-anglers, but all the time we spend by the water also gives us a real opportunity as anglers to do something positive about the issue. That’s why the Angling Trust, in partnership with the Environment Agency is promoting a new initiative called “Just Take Five”. The “Five” in question is either 5 pieces of litter or 5 minutes of litter picking. Will it make a difference ? Well individually if you start doing that from the next time you go fishing it WILL make a difference in three important ways:

  1. You WILL make the waterside a tidier place. OK admittedly picking up just 5 pieces of rubbish is not going to make a massive difference to the whole river, lakeside or beach, but it will make a difference to one small area.
  2. It will put angling and anglers in a very good light. Most people are fairly ambivalent about fishing, but we do get some bad press particularly when birds get caught in fishing line, so the general public actually seeing anglers litter picking and helping to improve our environment can only be a good thing.
  3. YOU will feel good about yourself. In my experience, doing some work that improves the natural surrounding that you love is very good for the soul. What’s more I’m convinced that the fishing gods smile on those who look after the environment, so if you want to catch that 30lb carp, 10lb Bass, 4lb perch, 2lb roach or 3lb wild brownie, I suggest you take 5 !
Wild places should be free of litter. Let’s all do our bit !

If we can make a difference individually, then just think about how much difference we can make collectively. My colleague Andy Wedgbury is a bit of a stats geek and so as soon as he found out about the Just Take Five campaign he started doing some sums. It turns out that if every angler in the country went fishing once a month for a year and picked up 5 pieces of litter when they were out, the litter collected would be equal to the weight of five blue whales or 70 double decker buses ! That’s quite something to think about.

So next time you are setting up, or packing up ready to go home, why not take five minutes to litter-pick, make our natural environment more beautiful and help keep angling at the forefront of conservation. You might just persuade the fishing gods that you’re next fish will be a memorable one while your at it !

I always believe in trying to keep the fishing gods happy !

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