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Why we should all care about sea angling

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People fishing by the sea
People fish all over England and Wales on the coast and out at sea

Sea angling is big business in England according to our latest survey of recreational sea angling in England. We have just released the results of Sea Angling 2012 – the largest ever survey of recreational sea angling in England.

It has been a huge undertaking, collecting data from over 12,000 households, 11,000 anglers, and visiting 2,000 stretches of coastline. Scientists are often accused of working in ivory towers, but this was not the case with Sea Angling 2012; Cefas delivered in partnership with the angling community which included the Bass Anglers’ Sportfishing Society and Angling Trust.

We started on the Sea Angling 2012 journey over 3 years ago and it has felt like scaling Everest at times. But the effort was well worth it as, most importantly, we are proud to have delivered the most comprehensive data ever on sea angling in England in collaboration with the MMO, IFCAs, substance and University of Cardiff.

Logos of all organisations helping in the Sea Angling survey
Numerous organisations were involved in the Sea Angling survey project

What did we find?

We found that sea angling is important economically, socially, and ecologically. Almost 900,000 English sea anglers spent around £1.23 billion in 2012, supporting over 13,000 jobs, and relax and connect with nature whilst out fishing.

Our surveys also confirm what has been found elsewhere in Europe and overseas – that sea anglers can catch a significant amount of fish. “Surely”, you say “we catch tiny amounts compared to a trawler or a netter”. A bit of simple maths shows that if a million anglers catch just 1kg of fish each year, it adds up to 1000 tonnes, which is a lot of fish.

Surveys in England, France and Netherlands show that the recreational take of bass is around a third of the reported commercial landings. Bass stocks are in decline, due partly we think to recent cold winters causing poor survival of young fish in the nursery areas. All types of fishermen – commercial and recreational alike, need to consider what they can do to restore the stock and to help develop longer-term plans to conserve and obtain the greatest benefits from this iconic species.

Where next?

Sea Angling 2012 has provided good evidence that sea angling makes a big contribution to the economy, but it also has an impact on stocks. The angling community, commercial fishers, Defra, MMO, and IFCAs to can now use this evidence alongside commercial catches to ensure that the needs of all types of fishers are considered and represented in the development fishery policy.

More information

For more information, read the Sea Angling 2012 report or contact mailto:

You can follow us on twitter @CefasGovUK.

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