In Celebration Of Our Litter Champions! 

How the Anglers Against Litter Campaign Is Rewarding Community-Spirited Anglers

Angling is a sport that encourages opinion and anglers certainly have them! Best bait, best tactics or favourite brands, there is always an opportunity for vigorous debate, but there is one subject every conscientious angler agrees on. Litter.

Ever since the Angling Trust’s Anglers Against Litter campaign was launched, the sport’s own crusade to clean up our countryside and beaches has grown in intensity, relevance and impact. Such is the drive of angling and anglers to show they are part of the solution and not the whole of the problem, the campaign’s annual allocation of free litter picking kits for clubs and fisheries is already massively over subscribed for the current year. It’s a sure sign that anglers right across the country DO care and so, as a consequence, the time has now come for angling’s champions of the ‘war’ on litter to be formally recognised.

Without doubt, committed anglers are openly opposed to litter in our pegs and at our venues because each and every week, the Angling Trust receives stories reflecting the actions of volunteer anglers clearing their local waters of unsightly materials and general rubbish. Not all the litter collected is the consequence of an angler’s recent presence but when these are posted to social media channels, they’re regularly showered with enthusiastic endorsement. 

Beautiful venues like the River Swale in Yorkshire are easily blighted by careless discard.

So whisper it quietly, but perhaps news is beginning to filter through to the outside world that the world of angling and its participants are doing their fair share when it comes to this element of social responsibility. Not that any of that was every really in doubt when the concept of an Anglers Against Litter programme was forming in the minds of those within the Angling Trust. One of those people was Marketing, Communications & Membership manager, John Cheyne.

“I spent nearly a decade going around the country running fisheries forums and one of the constant gripes I heard from many anglers was turning up at a beautiful lake, river or beach and finding litter,” said John. 

“In most cases there is no reason for it to be there. There will always be occasions when stuff gets out of a litter bin because of a storm or something but on the whole, it’s down to carelessness and a lack of civic decency. What’s even worse, and I know this annoys the majority of anglers more than anything, is seeing angling litter. The thought that another angler didn’t have the respect for the environment that they have is something that makes people very angry. So on my travels, there was a real groundswell of opinion amongst many anglers that they wanted to be part of the solution and prove to the world they weren’t part of the problem.”

From those conversations, Anglers Against Litter was launched with support of Rod Licence income from the Environment Agency. It was a formal concept that John and his colleagues were in no doubt would be an ongoing success.

“The vast majority of anglers go fishing because it’s a wonderful way to spend time in beautiful places. They don’t necessarily go to ‘bag up’, win matches or achieve personal bests, they go because it’s a fantastic way to enjoy and engage with our environment. Obviously, if you go somewhere and there is litter, it will impinge on your ability to enjoy it because to an extent, the environment has been spoiled.”

The news stories of anglers as voluntary litter ‘Champions’ clearing up other people’s mess increased to such an extent that formal recognition of their work became the next, natural phase of the programme. Tackle giants Shimano were inspired into the endorsement of a programme that rewards the selfless volunteers and effectively says; ‘thank you’.

“We saw what the Trust had done and saw an opportunity to give something back in an important area,” said Shimano Marketing Officer, Andrew Timothy. “The mission statement of the company includes the phrases; ‘to promote health and happiness through the enjoyment of nature and the world around us’ and ‘closer to nature, closer to people’ so this campaign ties in very nicely. As a multi-disciplined business covering fly, coarse, saltwater, carp and predator fishing, this is something that every single one of our disciplines can be involved with.” 

As part of the association, Shimano specifically developed a custom-made Anglers Against Litter cap that will be awarded regularly to anglers who have shown a commitment help clean up our waterways.

“We looked carefully at several different sample caps and designs,” said Andrew. “If you’ve gone out of your way to litter pick your local area, you deserve something you can take pride in rather than something that’s going to end up in the back of a drawer.”

The first of these money-can’t-buy ‘trophies’ was recently presented to angler and passionate environmentalist Ron Wood from Yorkshire who, as a volunteer bailiff, has been prolific with his litter picking on his local waters over a number of years.

Ron said: “My own view is that as anglers we are custodians of the rivers and streams and if we don’t look after them, who else will? There’s plenty of work to be done.” 

Ron’s award is the first of what will be a regular series of presentations to worthy recipients and the chance for recognition while making a difference could hardly be easier. 

John Cheyne said: “We ask people who want to get involved to go to a specific page on our website, pledge to take five minutes to litter pick wherever they go fishing and then post something on social media using #AnglersAgainstLitter or email us a picture. It’s nothing more than a simple pledge, not an outright contract to fulfil but every month, but we’ll look at the best we receive and recognise the most deserving with a presentation.

“The one thing we’d love to make sure of is that absolutely none of what we see is angling litter. The first rule of being a good angler is to leave the environment in at least as good a state as you found it and possibly even better. The world isn’t a perfect place and there will always be litter; sometimes by accident, sometimes because of someone’s basic lack of social dignity, but we as anglers, can show how much we care about the environment by being part of the solution.”

You can pledge to take five minutes to litter pick at your local water and stand a chance of being our next litter ‘Champion’ by clicking here

The Angling Trust has produced a guide to safe litter picking with advice on self protection and safe collection here.

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