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Anglers welcome government recognition

[Monday 24 July 2006]

Millions of British anglers have welcomed a controversial government report which has caused near apoplexy amongst other countryside organisations because it officially recognises the social and economic importance of their sport.

Dales rivers attract thousands of anglers

Since the ban of fox hunting with hounds - seen by most country people as a victory for urban class warriors rather than an animal welfare measure - the country's 2.5 million fisherman have feared that they are next on the list.

These fears have been exacerbated by left wing Labour MPs demanding tests to prove that hooked fish feel pain. This anxiety is shared by the game shooting lobby, as shotgun licensing laws have been tightened so hard that there are fears that this is a back-door method of closing down their field sport too.

However, in the Government's State of the Countryside Report, 2006, issued this week - which caused much controversy in other areas (see A week in the country) - angling is recognised as playing an important role both socially and economically in rural areas.

Angling is not only the most popular outdoor activity, but it is also the most accessible and inclusive

Robert Gray - Countryside Alliance

The report says that there are some 2.5 million anglers (an under-estimate in some eyes) and the industry generates £2.75 billion a year and employs 20,000 people full- or part-time.

This recognition was welcomed by the Countryside Alliance whose campaign director Robert Gray commented: "Angling is not only the most popular outdoor activity, but it is also the most accessible and inclusive. With obesity rates and anti-social behaviour dominating the headlines, it is encouraging to see a healthy activity recognised as such an integral part of the British countryside and rural economy."

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