National survey shines spotlight on anglers

More than 29,000 anglers took part in The National Angling Survey, one of the largest studies of anglers ever undertaken, which was carried out by the Angling Trust on behalf of DEFRA and the Environment Agency.

The survey aimed to help inform the development of a new national strategy for angling in England and Wales. Along with a survey of angling organisations, it sought to gather the views and experiences of as wide a cross section of anglers possible.

Results of the survey show that respondents came from all backgrounds and that:
97 per cent were male, with a mean average age of 51 and 95 per cent white
Nearly 20 per cent had some form of illness or disability that affected their physical activity, showing that angling remains an activity for all abilities
65 per cent were employed or self employed
23 per cent were retired

The survey also showed that of the respondents, eighty seven per cent began fishing between the ages of four and 16 with nearly 74 per cent between the ages of five and 12 - a figure the Angling Trust says shows the importance of youth development for the future of angling.

Over 38 per cent of anglers were introduced to fishing by their parent; 19 per cent by another family member and 26.6 per cent by a friend - suggesting that familial and friendship groups are vital for the development of angling participation.

The largest proportion of anglers were coarse fishermen and the majority of those fish most often in stillwaters (57.6 per cent). However, all disciplines of angling were represented and 37.2 per cent took part in sea angling.

The survey showed that anglers are keen volunteers: 23.3 per cent of anglers said they volunteered for an angling organisation and a over 26 per cent said they would like to get involved in volunteering environmental work. Eleven per cent of respondents were interested in becoming a coach and 10 per cent in taking up voluntary roles with their clubs.

Almost all anglers want to go fishing more often (94.2 per cent) but lack of time due to work and family commitments was the biggest barrier for 59.5 per cent (17,305) of anglers. The weather (7.9 per cent), cost (6.8 per cent) and health (4.2 per cent) were cited as other significant barriers.

Just under a quarter of anglers (23 per cent) said more local fishing provision was the most important thing (something that would allow increased participation but taking up less time). Almost the same number said that cheaper access to fishing was most important.

The survey asked anglers about their views of the Environment Agency and a huge majority - 87.7 per cent - said they thought the EA should retain its statutory role in promoting and protecting freshwater fish and fishing.

The use of Rod Licence income is always a hot topic for anglers - they are unusual in legally having to pay for a licence in order to take part in their sport. 59.3 per cent wanted more Rod Licence income to be used for the promotion and development of angling.

In terms of the most important environmental issues, pollution was by a significant distance the most important environmental issue for anglers, with 45.7 per cent of those who answered this question ranking it as 'most important'. Poaching was the second most common issue cited as most important (15.2 per cent); 12.4 per cent ranked predation and 5.7 per cent ranked invasive species as 'most important'.

For sea anglers, poor fish stocks was identified by 69 per cent as the biggest issue facing the sport and over-fishing by the commercial trawlers cited as the biggest threat by 73.2 per cent.

Follow this link to download a copy of the National Angling Survey Results

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