Recreational sea angling
Recreational sea angling is one of the country's most popular
sports, with up to 2 million people going sea angling every
Sea anglers are known to contribute substantially to local
economies, and support many businesses. These might include fishing
tackle retailers and manufacturers, bait suppliers, boat sales and
suppliers, charter boats, specialist magazines, and local tourism
Yet very little is known about current sea angling activity and
economic value compared with other uses of marine resources around
The move towards more regional management and spatial planning
of human activities in the inshore zone around England - for which
the new Inshore
Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) will play a
pivotal role - provides new opportunities for the needs of
recreational sea anglers to be taken into account in policy
development alongside the needs of other stakeholders.
For this to happen, it is important to know:
- how many people go angling and how often
- where they fish
- the extent to which they support local economies
- how many fish are caught and how many are released alive.
This applies to all forms of sea angling - from the shore, and
on private or charter boats. It is only with such information that
balanced decisions can be made, which take into account the needs,
sustainability and socio-economic benefits of different human
activities in the marine environment.
The absence of data on quantities of fish retained or released
alive by sea anglers is also an impediment to assessing the
conservation status of some important recreational angling stocks
such as bass. Cefas contributes to scientific assessments of bass and
other species through the International Council for the Exploration
of the Seas (ICES).
Many sea anglers consider bass stocks around the UK to be
over-fished. The current assessment published by ICES, which is
based only on UK commercial fishery data, paints a different
picture - of an expanding stock being fished sustainably. Accurate
data on recreational catches and releases is needed to give us a
clearer evaluation of the status of bass stocks, as the basis for
formulating management policies aimed at meeting the needs of both
the recreational and commercial sectors.
Sea Angling 2012
The government is embarking on the biggest-ever national survey
of English sea angling to provide information on sea angling
activity, catches and releases, and on the importance of the sport
as a socio-economic activity.
Sea Angling 2012 - a survey of recreational sea
angling activity and economic value in England is
being carried out by Cefas, the Marine Management
Organisation and the new IFCAs.
We will collect information, via surveys throughout England,
about sea anglers and businesses that are partly or wholly
dependent on sea angling. The survey results will enable angling
bodies to develop their own views and policies, and to collaborate
with the government and IFCAs to make informed decisions about
fishery management at local, national and European levels.
The project will also enable the UK to meet the needs of
European legislation, which requires EU member states to collect
and report data on recreational catches of certain species:
- the EU Control Regulation requires the reporting of
recreational catches of stocks subject to recovery plans (charter
- the EU Data Collection Framework requires the reporting of
catches of bass, cod and sharks (covering all forms of recreational
fishing from boat and shore).
Cefas' purpose, as an executive agency of Defra, is to play a
vital role in securing healthy marine and freshwater environments
for everyone's well-being, health and prosperity. There is a huge
potential for sea angling activity and economic value to be boosted
if fish stocks are restored to healthy and productive levels.
The government needs evidence-based advice to decide how to
achieve this whilst meeting the specific needs of both recreational
and commercial fishermen and other stakeholders.
The results of the project were published in November 2013.
For more information about this project: