Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where has the Angling Trust come from?

The Angling Trust was formed from a merger of the six angling organisations in 2009 in order to create a single unified representative body for all anglers in England and was recognised at that time by government as the national governing body for all angling.

The founding bodies were the governing bodies for the three disciplines of angling: National Federation of Anglers, the National Federation of Sea Anglers, and the Salmon & Trout Association (which became a separate charity and handed its governing body for game angling status to the Angling Trust). These organisations had all been in existence for about 100 years. The National Association of Angling and Fisheries Consultatives and the Specialist Anglers Alliance were also signatories to the merger agreement. Our aim was to provide a single point of contact for government and an organisation which was greater than the sum of its parts.

Then in 2012, the Angling Trust merged with the Angling Development Board to give it responsibility for promoting angling participation for the government. It then merged with the Confederation of English Fly Fishers and the England Ladies Fly Fishers. In 2016, the Angling Trust extended its representative role to cover Wales on selected issues, but the responsibility for angling participation in Wales remains with the three separate Welsh governing bodies for angling. The Angling Trust is united in a collaborative relationship with Fish Legal, a separate membership association that uses the law to protect fish stocks and the rights of its members throughout the UK (previously known as the Anglers’ Conservation Association, founded in 1948). Joint membership packages with Fish Legal are available for individuals, clubs, fisheries and other categories.

The Angling Trust is answerable to its membership of individuals, clubs, fisheries and other organisations who all have a vote at the AGM and can appoint a number of Directors to the board.

2. What does the Angling Trust & Fish Legal do?

The Angling Trust’s aim is to protect and improve recreational angling and fish stocks through:
  • Lobbying/Campaigning: on behalf of members and the angling community to protect and improve fish stocks and the right to fish for them;
  • Angling and Environmental Projects: working with the Environment Agency and others to carry out projects to improve angling and the water environment;
  • Membership and fundraising: providing membership benefits to a wide range of categories of membership, administering subscriptions and raising funds for the Angling Trust & Fish Legal;
  • Promoting and developing angling: increasing the diversity and number of participants in angling, the frequency of participation and the standards of safeguarding and coaching;
  • Competitions: providing a wide range of Angling Trust regional and national competitions in England for all angling disciplines and supporting England’s national teams to win medals;

Fish Legal provides specialist legal advice and takes legal action on behalf of its member clubs, riparian and fishery owners to protect the water environment and to seeks compensation for any environmental damage. It carries out the following activities:

• Legal Action: working on behalf of members of Fish Legal to protect their interests, taking legal action against polluters and others who cause environmental damage in accordance with the objectives of Fish Legal throughout the UK;
• Legal Advice:
providing legal advice and guidance on a range of fishery and angling related issues;
• Campaigning:
using the law to put pressure on regulators and authorities to protect and improve fisheries throughout the UK;
• Support for Angling Trust:
providing legal advice and support to the campaigns of the Angling Trust in England.

3. How is the Angling Trust funded?

Our funding comes from a variety of sources. The three largest sources of funding are:

  • Membership subscriptions, donations and legacies.
  • Environment Agency (which funds a wide variety of specific work areas including our Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, angling participation work, and more under contract).
  • Sport England (for some of our angling participation work).

Due to the funding we receive from the Environment Agency via the rod licence for specific projects, freshwater angling receives greater funding than sea angling as the income from the freshwater rod licence is a tax which can only be spent on protecting and improving freshwater fisheries and angling. The only thing holding us back is a lack of financial support from anglers which restricts the resources we have available to campaign as fully as we would like on the wide range of issues affecting all forms of angling. We receive no contracted funding from the government to carry out any specific work on sea angling, but we can use some of the Sport England funding for sea angling participation projects and competitions.

4. Does receiving funding from the Environment Agency mean that the Angling Trust can’t criticise their work or the government?

The Angling Trust receives funds from the Environment Agency for a wide range of projects under specific contracts, but there is nothing in these which requires us to pull our punches when being critical of government or its agencies and we do hold the government to account on a regular basis. Whilst we will always acknowledge good practice and sensible policies we have also issued many press releases and run campaigns criticising government and EA policy and practice in no uncertain terms. Our first responsibility is to protect fish and fishing in line with our members’ interests and we will always do so without hindrance.

5. What are the biggest achievements of the Angling Trust & Fish Legal’s campaigns and legal action?

  • Rod licence reform: The Angling Trust successfully lobbied the Environment Agency to review the rod licence structure. We felt it unfair that carp and specimen anglers should have to purchase two rod licences to fish with just three rods (effectively paying for four), that junior anglers had to pay for a licence, and that rod licences expired at the end of March regardless of when they were purchased. Due to our pressure, anglers now have the option to purchase a three-rod licence, junior anglers get a free rod licence and all licences run for 365 days from the date of purchase.
  • Preventing dredging: Following the 2014 floods there were attempts by politicians and the farming lobby to deregulate dredging and return to failed policies of the past, which damaged river systems, reduced biodiversity and destroyed important fish habitat. The Angling Trust co-authored the ‘Flood and Dredging –A Reality Check’ report with other NGOs, lobbied the Defra Minister and highlighted the issues in the media to ensure this didn’t happen. As a result, we have managed to fight off widespread dredging programmes.
  • Hydropower regulations: Hydropower schemes, if badly designed, can destroy important fish habitat and river functions, kill or injure fish of all species and increase vulnerability to predation. We produced a dossier to highlight the impact of hydropower and its insignificant benefits, along with a guide to advise community groups about design. We’ve objected to hundreds of applications and secured changes in design and rejections. Most significantly, we eventually persuaded the EA to tighten up guidelines to developers to stop the more damaging schemes from coming forward. Fish Legal won a landmark injunction to stop a new hydro on the River Trent at Sawley. The company involved cancelled 15 planned schemes and went out of business.
  • Conserving crucians: In 2014, the Angling Trust teamed up with the Environment Agency to start a campaign to try and halt the decline of true crucian carp. Habitat loss and hybridisation with king carp and brown goldfish has made this species increasingly scarce in recent years, and therefore the National Crucian Conservation Project was formed with the objectives to:

– Promote the conservation of the species and its habitat

– Encourage the development of well-managed crucian fisheries

To date, many angling clubs have approached the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to set up bespoke crucian waters because of the NCCP. Furthermore, each year we run the Catch a Crucian Month competition to promote crucian angling to adults and junior anglers alike.

  • Sea Angling Access: We have successfully run a number of local campaigns to influence local government over access for angling. These include, but are not limited to: helping to prevent a ban on angling and bait digging by Rother District Council in East Sussex; lobbying Adur District Council for a new slipway on the river; supporting our Wyvern Region’s campaign for East Devon District Council to maintain slipway access to the River Exe and securing the legal interpretation of the law for members of the public collecting bait for fishing to do so for ‘friends and family’.
  • Legal challenges of government: the Angling Trust & Fish Legal teamed up with WWF to fight two judicial reviews of the Environment Agency’s implementation of the Water Framework Directive and achieve the standard of good ecological status in rivers, lakes and coastal waters. We succeeded in getting the government to create a Catchment Restoration Fund worth nearly £100 million. We continue to challenge the government to do more, and faster.
  • Tackling poaching and fish theft: The Angling Trust has been instrumental in raising awareness of fisheries crime, including rod licence compliance, and increasing the support available to the Environment Agency. The Fisheries Enforcement Support Service, staffed by highly experienced former police officers, helps coordinate a multi-agency response through Operations TRAVERSE and LEVIATHAN, working closely with such partners as the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit and Magistrates’ Association. Anglers have been empowered to help, and their knowledge increased, via the immensely popular Voluntary Bailiff Service, now nearly 500 strong, and Fisheries Enforcement Workshops. This work has firmly located fisheries crime on the map in an unprecedented way and is funded by freshwater rod licence income. The FESS also includes the ‘Building Bridges’ Project, aimed at educating and integrating migrant anglers from countries whose angling law and culture is contrary to our own. Through the provision of multi-lingual information and engaging with migrant communities, bridges are built between migrant and British anglers –generating numerous positive benefits, not least increased club memberships and legal compliance. Education and integration are key –and the watchwords of ‘Building Bridges’.
  • Water Quality: Fish Legal successfully fought a landmark legal case to the High Court over 6 years to get all the water companies and other privatised utility companies to be subject to the Environmental Information Regulations so that they are compelled to tell us what they discharge into rivers and the sea, and how much water they abstract. We continue to challenge the Environment Agency and government to improve monitoring and regulate polluters more firmly.
  • Salmon: We successfully campaigned to get drift nets taking salmon returning to lots of different rivers banned from 2018 and nearly all other netting banned from 2019. This will save more than 20,000 fish from the nets each year. We successfully resisted attempts to impose mandatory catch and release on all anglers in England, but unfortunately could not persuade Natural Resources Wales to take a voluntary approach.
  • Sea Bass: the Angling Trust successfully campaigned for a bigger minimum landing size to allow bass to spawn before they were legally allowed to be caught and then succeeded in getting the targeted netting of bass banned in 2017. We continue to campaign for the rights of members of the public to fish for bass and to take a reasonable catch home for their own consumption and for better enforcement of netting regulations.
  • Abstraction reform: the Angling Trust has long campaigned for total reform of the water abstraction licensing system in England to give more protection to our rivers from over-abstraction. To this end, we helped get a resilience duty imposed on the water industry regulator, Ofwat, and a promise from the Government of abstraction reform in the next Water Bill. In addition, a raft of damaging and previously unregulated abstractions are now being licensed, including trickle irrigation –which occurs on a massive scale.
  • Sea Angling in Marine Conservation Zones: Over three years, we negotiated for recreational anglers to be the only sector allowed to fish for and retain black bream during the spawning season on three out of the four management zones within the Kingmere Marine Conservation Zone. Trawling and netting are prohibited during this period.
  • Habitat destruction: in the winter of 2016/17, the Angling Trust received numerous reports from its members of trees and other bankside vegetation being removed by the Environment Agency and its contractors, destroying vital habitat for fish and the insects on which fish depend for food. It produced a dossier of the destruction and challenged the Environment Agency to amend its policy, which it has now done. It has also provided an online tool so that angling clubs, fishery owners and anglers can see what work is planned for their stretch of river.

6. What is the Angling Trust’s policy on otter predation?

The Angling Trust is fully aware of the impacts that otter predation can have on both still water and river fisheries, particularly regarding the predation of large specimen fish such as carp and barbel. The Angling Trust lobbied the Environment Agency to set up the Angling Improvement Fund for clubs and fisheries to access funding from rod fishing licence income for otter fencing projects on still waters and to make waters not selling day tickets eligible for funding.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to fence rivers to prevent the predation of specimen riverine fish and in some parts of the country otters have had a serious impact on large fish. The Angling Trust believes that the only realistic solution that would be publicly acceptable is to deal with the underlying problems affecting the productivity of fisheries such as control over agricultural and sewage pollution, damage to habitats and over-abstraction of our rivers. Providing areas of undercut banks, tree roots and fallen trees as refuges for both large and juvenile fish can help reduce the impact of predation. We do not believe that there is any likelihood of politicians agreeing to a cull, or any lethal control of otters, and to call for such measures would only endanger the reputation in the public eye of anglers as conservationists and guardians of our water environment.

7. What is the Angling Trust doing to control cormorant predation?

The Angling Trust believes that the best outcome would be for cormorants to be included on the general licence. However, we have not been able to persuade ministers to adopt this approach which is why we are pressing for a doubling in the number of cormorants which can be shot each year and to make it easier to control goosanders within the licensing framework.

We have recently relaunched the Cormorant Watch website to allow anglers to record their cormorant and goosander sightings. We will use the data provided to back our demands and also to improve the licensing regimes in Wales and Scotland.

Over 120,000 sightings of birds were recorded when the first edition of Cormorant Watch was launched in 2012, which helped the Angling Trust make the case for the introduction of Area-Based Licences (ABLs), which have reduced bureaucracy and costs for hard-pressed fishery managers and angling clubs.

The Angling Trust employs an Environment Manager and also two full-time Fishery Management Advisors in England, funded by the Environment Agency rod licence, to advise fisheries and angling clubs about a variety of methods to protect their fisheries. As a result of their work with clubs and fisheries, more cormorant licences are now being applied for than ever before.

8. Where does the Angling Trust stand on a sea angling licence?

The Angling Trust has never sought the introduction of a licence for sea angling. We have considered this question and tried to explore the benefits and drawbacks of a licence. The Angling Trust is well aware of the controversy that surrounds the idea of introducing a licence for recreational sea fishing and the opposition to it which was voiced when a Recreational Sea Angling strategy was being considered by the government in 2009. We have been clear that any potential licence income would have to be ring-fenced and deliver clear benefits to recreational sea angling and fisheries. We have also stated that the Angling Trust would seek to consult as widely as possible with anglers on the terms of any proposed licence in order to gauge public opinion before we made a decision about supporting it or not. We have never tendered for the administration of any potential licence or had any other detailed discussions with government about this. However, this is likely to be an issue that comes up in the future.

9. Where does the Angling Trust stand on the coarse angling close season?

The Angling Trust recognises that there are a wide range of views about the close season on rivers and has therefore maintained a neutral position in this debate. We have helped the debate by getting different people to express their views and we have been involved in an Environment Agency consultative panel of experts, set up in 2015, to review the evidence case for the existing river close season, arrangements in other countries and examination of available scientific studies. The evidence paper has been approved unanimously by the whole panel and may in due course be the subject of an EA consultation.

10. Why did the Angling Trust decide to start representing anglers in Wales on selected issues?

We were invited to do so by the Welsh Salmon and Trout Angling Association who agreed to focus on competitions in future. We only take on sea angling issues affecting Wales where they are decided by UK government and/or the European Commission.

11. How can I keep in touch with the work of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal?

The Angling Trust offers free fortnightly newsletters and monthly sea update emails: simply visit and enter your e-mail address to receive these. In addition, please see our campaigns grids for more details on all the campaigns we are currently working on here.

12. Who sits on the Angling Trust board and Fish Legal Committee?

The Angling Trust board consists of the CEO and up to 11 volunteer directors. This includes four people who have been nominated by the membership and up to 7 people co-opted by the board for their skills and experience. The Fish Legal Committee has up to 12 members, all of whom are put up for election by the membership every year at the Annual General Meeting. The Board and Committee set the strategic direction for each organisation and oversee the work of the paid staff who work for each organisation. For a list of the members of each of these bodies, please click here for Angling Trust or click here for Fish Legal.

13. What is the Angling Trust doing to get more juniors into fishing?

Our research indicates that the majority of juniors are introduced to fishing by a family member or friend. We run a national GET FISHING campaign to engage in free Family Fishing events supported by a network of delivery partners. Events are listed on and provide a great introduction to angling for children. We also support hundreds of clubs, fisheries, education providers, fisheries, charities and angling organisations to deliver a co-ordinated programme of angling participation events to beginners and lapsed anglers, of all ages and abilities. We have trained thousands of coaches and provide a coach licensing scheme to ensure that children and vulnerable people can learn to fish in safety.

We receive support from Sport England and the Environment Agency to carry out this work. The Environment Agency’s funding only applies to freshwater fishing because it is raised from the fishing rod licence and there is no such fund for sea angling, but our Sport England participation work, and our competitions, include sea angling. We would like to have much more funding to enable us to do more to secure a strong future for our sport.

To find out more about becoming a qualified angling coach click here.

14. Why do I have to be an Angling Trust member to enter your competitions?

Fishing in the competitions the Angling Trust runs is one of many benefits of membership and this policy is the same as many other national governing bodies (NGBs) for sports. In fact, in many other sports, nearly all competitions require membership of the NGB. Your membership fees support our work campaigning to protect fish stocks and our rights to fish for them, Fish Legal’s work taking action against polluters and our work to promote fishing so that it has a sustainable future.

15. Do you give financial support to the England national teams?

As the National Governing Body, we cover the cost of international registration to the world governing body for all angling competitions (C.I.P.S.). We fund the cost of insuring the England national teams for their international competition activities. We also help provide funding for clothing and badges. In addition, Angling Trust administrative and finance staff take care of the collection and payments of monies for international competitions and the financial reporting. Angling Trust staff co-ordinate all the volunteers involved in management and coaching of teams, and issuing media releases about our many international successes.

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