Our Economic Narrative… What’s the Story ?
Look I know that part of the reason we go fishing is to get away from politics and all that relentlessly grim news about the economy but some of us have to spend time and energy on this stuff. Without a strong national voice for angling our sport will lose out. That’s why the Angling Trust is banging the doors down in Westminster and Europe to ensure that proposed legislation doesn’t restrict our sport or anglers’ access to waters. That’s why Fish Legal takes on the polluters who try to destroy our fisheries and the hydropower developers who would ruin spawning habitat for barbel and chub in our rivers.
But apart from promoting the social, educational and environmental benefits of angling there’s another important card that we play. It was the former US president Bill Clinton who coined the phrase ‘It’s the economy stupid’ – not as a political slogan but as a reminder to his staff as to what the central message of his campaign has to be. Those of us who work in fishing need to be similarly focussed on the economic benefits of angling and the jobs and business opportunities that our sport creates. We deliver some pretty big numbers and when I quote them back to government ministers and other politicians you can see pennies dropping.
Back in 2010 I did some work for Australian Fishing Trades Association and produced a comprehensive report entitled Keep Australia Fishing on how Aussie anglers working with their colleagues in the tackle industry could take their sport forward and build greater political and public support. A crucial part of the message was to deliver a clear economic narrative on the benefits of angling to the country as a whole. I trawled for examples from across the world to get the point over including from here in the UK.
You can find my full report here.. http://www.biaa.com.au/resources/NEWS/BIAA-Member/Keep-Aust-Fishing.pdf
The Angling Trades Association (ATA)
I work closely with the ATA on developing links with the trade and on joint campaigns and initiatives like the excellent National Fishing Month and Action on Cormorants. Part of my job is to support the trade shows and I’ve given talks at the Carp Society Winter Show, Tackle and Guns and at The Big One in Farnborough. The partnership working between the ATA and the Angling Trust is one of the great strengths of how we operate over here and is in marked contrast to some other countries where there is pointless rivalry.
The Angling Trust regularly pushes out a clear economic message in its contacts with government and the press and in much of its publicity. Our line is clear – Angling in England and Wales is worth £3.5 billion to the economy and is responsible for over 37,000 jobs. Our colleagues in the Angling Trades Association conduct regular surveys of activity within the tackle trade. These are invaluable in helping make the case for angling and also give us an excellent picture of the changing patterns in our sport. The top line figures from the 2011 ATA survey show that total sales have risen from £490 million in 2003 to £515m in 2006 to £541m. The average retailers’ turnover is £218,600 and an amazing 43.9% of all sales are now on line or via mail order.
You can read more here.. http://www.anglingtradesassociation.com/default.aspx?page=98
Around the World
The Americans have got the economic arguments well and truly nailed down in the consciousness of their politicians and decision makers. They do this through a comprehensive survey undertaken every five years by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Here’s what I wrote in my report..
“In the USA the American Sportsfishing Association (ASA) has a very clear narrative which is front and centre of its message to both politicians and the public. Recreational fishing in America has 60 million anglers who spend $45 billion dollars in retail sales benefiting the economy by $125 billion and providing employment for over one million people.”
It would take a pretty foolhardy senator or congressman to vote for policies that might start damaging those figures !
You can read the full US survey here.. http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/upload/FWS-National-Preliminary-Report-2011.pdf
We’ve been doing a lot of work on the bass conservation issue recently and I have no doubt that being able to quote to Richard Benyon the 15million euros of benefit that has accrued to the Irish economy each year as a result of making the species a recreational only catch was a deciding factor in winning a ministerial review of the current unsustainable bass minimum size limit.
Quite a few of my Aussie mates are involved in the campaign to end the disgraceful commercial longlining for striped marlin. A survey of the economic worth of the New South Wales recreational fishery which show 30 times the economic benefit compared to the commercial operation has been a powerful tool in making their case.
Over in Florida, where fishing is a huge part of the local economy, one tarpon fishery alone on the Charlotte Harbor system was shown to be worth a staggering $108.6 million while closer to home both the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association have made the economic case on the recreational value of the Atlantic salmon as part of our successful drive to remove the damaging North East mixed stock net fishery.
So next time you go into a tackle shop or spend your hard earned cash in an outdoor clothing store or on a fishing trip be aware that that not only are you helping our struggling economy but that the bean counters at both the Angling Trust and ATA will be totting it all up as we fight the good fight for a fishing future !