News May 2021

Campaign to save angling on Dover’s Admiralty Pier

The Dover Harbour Board are threatening to close one of the best sea angling venues on the South Coast.

Admiralty Pier in Dover has been a mecca for sea anglers for over 100 years. Since 1903, the Dover Sea Angling Association have held events on the pier. When the pier was damaged in the 1987 hurricane, the DSAA invested over £180,000 repairing the pier and took on its management. Now Dover Harbour Board are threatening to close Admiralty Pier to angling, for good.

The Angling Trust is working with the Dover Sea Anglers Association to stop this happening, and is calling on sea anglers to get behind the campaign by signing the “Reopen Admiralty Pier Petition”, and writing to the Dover Harbour Board to show their opposition.

Richard Yates, Chairman of the Dover Sea Angling Association, said: “When the Harbour Board told us of their intention, we couldn’t believe it. This has been an important angling spot since 1903. Thanks to the hard work and passion of members of the DSAA we have created the best sea angling spot on the south coast. It is enjoyed by the people of Dover and by anglers who travel from all over the country to fish here. It brings valuable business to our town. We welcome over 4,000 angler a year to this spot.

“With access to the Prince of Wales Pier closed to angling we were able to support disabled anglers by creating facilities for them on Admiralty Pier. This gives access to many anglers who would have nowhere else to go. To lose Admiralty Pier will be a blow to all anglers, but it will be a kick in the teeth to disabled anglers.”

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said: “The Harbour Board have made up some excuse that they have to close the pier because of a government consultation on the Protect Duty. This is no more than that, an excuse. The reality is this is a cynical move to kick anglers off the pier. We will be supporting Dover Sea Angling Association and taking this fight to the Harbour Board and to parliament.”

Both the DSAA and the Angling Trust are seeking a meeting with the Harbour Board to discuss their plans. We will be contacting the Dover MP, Natalie Elphicke, to seek her support is opposing this move.

Angling Trust condemns call to illegally trespass

The Angling Trust condemns the planned action of Extinction Rebellion and the Right to Roam Campaign in encouraging people to take part in a “mass trespass” on Saturday, 24th April. The action is being promoted as a way of getting people to reconnect with nature.

As we recover from the pandemic, the need to reconnect with our natural world is important.  Natural England has found that most people’s experiences with nature are close to home, with people making more use of nature on their doorstep.  The number of visits to urban greenspaces has almost doubled in the last 10 years. Whether that is a visit to the local park, spending time in a garden, by rivers or lakes, in our countryside or along the coast, being outside and close to nature is a great way to bring us calm, peace, fulfilment and a fantastic fillip for the stresses and anxieties we have all felt during this lockdown. We encourage everyone to spend more time outside, close to nature, but it is incumbent on us to respect nature, to act legally, and to show respect for wildlife.

This action by Extinction Rebellion and the Right to Roam Campaign risks doing untold harm to wildlife, particularly in this time of early spring when many birds are nesting, fish are spawning, and delicate flowers and plants are beginning to regrow.  It also risks exposing people who are new to the countryside to conflict with other groups.

The Right to Roam campaign are calling for people to, ‘…swim in a river that for as long as you’ve known it has been reserved for the exclusive use of fishing clubs.’  This at a time of the closed season for coarse angling on rivers to protect spawning fish.

Jamie Cook, CEO of the Angling Trust, said:

“For decades, angling clubs have worked with riparian owners to establish voluntary access agreements and in turn undertake hundreds of thousands of hours of voluntary environmental improvement work every year to improve habitats and maintain clean and healthy environments. Natural England note that around 4% of the population have been involved in environmental volunteering whereas that figure soars to 57% of the nation’s anglers.

“By working with landowners, managing and enhancing the environment and acting as custodians of the waterways local community angling clubs have created a template which can be followed by others. We would see this collaborative approach to enjoying nature as much more beneficial and sustainable than encouraging people to break the law and completely disregard the Countryside Code at a time of year when many anglers are observing a closed season to allow fish, birds and other wildlife to reproduce and develop in peace.”

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns, commented:

“There are a myriad of ways we can all get out and about and enjoy nature.  England has 140,000 miles of footpaths, 20,000 miles of bridal ways, 16,000 miles of a national circle network, many of which are close to or beside water, and 4,700 miles of canals and navigable rivers in mainland Britain.  Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of new people taking up fishing as a way of getting outdoors and improving wellbeing.

“The Angling Trust has been working flat-out to meet the demand and get as many people as possible involved in the sport at beautiful beginner-friendly locations around the country which are listed on our website ‘Get Fishing’.  We do, however, encourage anyone wanting to get out into nature to do so in a responsible way and within the law.

“Throughout the summer of 2020 we saw the damage caused to our countryside, National Parks and nature reserves by irresponsible behaviour; the litter, faeces, wildfires and the conflicts with those who live, work, and invest hours of their time is protecting and improving our countryside.  We do not want to see this behaviour repeat itself in 2021.”

Sea Anglers lead fight to restore Sussex kelp forests

A new bylaw has been approved to prohibit trawling year-round in more than 100 square miles of seabed off Sussex. The bylaw aims to facilitate the recovery of kelp forests and improve fisheries.

The sea angling community in Sussex played a key role in the public consultation process led by the Sussex Inshore and Fisheries Conservation Authority (SxIFCA) and are highly supportive of the decision to ban trawling in this area.

Sussex’s kelp forests were once vast and as recently as the 1980s stretched 25 miles along the West Sussex coast between Shoreham-by-Sea and Selsey Bill and were at least 2.5 miles wide. But have since dwindled to small remnants of their former glory, with intensified trawling and the dumping of sediment by dredging boats being the leading causes of their demise.

Reg Phillips, secretary of the Angling Trust Sussex Marine Region and member of the Angling Trust’s Conservation and Access Group said, “In 2011 I worked alongside Sussex sea anglers to organise a petition in a few local tackle shops between Worthing and Brighton requesting that nearshore trawling was prohibited up to our beaches and the petition collected hundreds of signatures. Sadly, though the petition resulted in meetings with the SxIFCA, nothing changed.

“When we formed the Sussex Marine Region of the Angling Trust in 2013, we organised a set of meetings with the angling community. One of their instructions was for the Angling Trust in Sussex to stop the nearshore trawling throughout the district. So, we immediately started a campaign to tackle the problem and in 2015 we decided to go further and carry out a four-year juvenile fish survey along our open beaches to prove how important these habitats are for spawning fish and for safe juvenile areas. In these surveys we discovered 16 different fin fish as well as squid, cuttlefish and numerous crab species that use these areas for spawning and as safe zones for their young.

Now with the trawling byelaw passed I can reflect on the years of campaigning. It has been a privilege to work with anglers and help deliver long term protection to our nearshore marine habitat and species during the most vulnerable stage in their life cycles.”

The campaigning work of the local angling community demonstrates recreational sea anglers integral role as stakeholders within sustainable fisheries management and their position as environmental stewards.

Kelp forests are not only rich habitats for wildlife and fisheries stocks, but they also improve water quality, reduce coastal erosion and are a form of ‘blue carbon’ as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, playing a key role in the fight against climate change. Through protecting this area, the hope is that fish stocks in the area will recover to their former glory, supporting healthy fisheries for years to come.

Tim MacPherson, publisher of Saltwater Boat Angling Magazine and Angling Trust Board member, said “This trawling bylaw being introduced in Sussex is a welcome addition to the suite of management tools the Sussex IFCA are using to control commercial fishing in a fair and measured way. That it has even happened at all is because of hard work of local anglers, helped by the Angling Trust, both in lobbying for this bylaw and for carrying out research over into juvenile fish numbers in the intertidal zone along the Sussex coast. Without this work the ban would not have been possible.

The key thing is the bylaw will help to protect Sussex’s precious marine ecosystems in one of the most heavily commercially fished inshore areas in the UK and will, I hope to see the restoration of the kelp beds which do so much to protect juvenile fish, particularly black bream.”

UK waters are home again to the bluefin tuna – Cefas

credit Jeroen Van Der Hooij

Atlantic bluefin tuna have returned to UK waters and can once again be seen during the summer and autumn months. Their numbers appear to be increasing, following a long period of absence linked to population decline, concludes research led by Cefas and the University of Exeter.

Marine scientists in the UK and Ireland have analysed multiple datasets, spanning a 16-year period, to document the increase in bluefin, which arrive into the waters of the Celtic Seas and off SW England, the Scilly Isles, and NW Ireland to feed in late summer and autumn. The research is part of the and Defra-funded “Thunnus UK” research project. Thunnus UK was established to improve knowledge of this species, as an essential first step in ensuring a positive future for Atlantic bluefin tuna around the UK.  

Central to the project’s success has been a concerted effort to share and combine important data on where people have observed Atlantic bluefin tuna. This will help us identify where and when these fish are found in British waters. Nearly 1000 unique observations were recorded between 2013 and 2018 by citizen scientists, scientists, fishers and eco-tour leaders. Researchers found that Atlantic bluefin tuna begin to arrive in May and stay as late as January. However, peak numbers were recorded between August and October each year. 

The research draws on five key data sources: 

  • The general public: A total of 80 sightings recorded by the public and submitted to
  • Eco-tourism: three eco-tourism vessels collecting data on more than 1600 boat tours off the SW coast of England between 2008 and 2018.
  • Opportunistic scientific surveys: 40 days of surveys with >2500 km of effort conducted by Cefas and University of Exeter experts off the Northwest Coast of Ireland and SW England in 2016 and 2018.
  • Fisheries independent surveys: (1) data collected by MarineLife during the Peltic survey by Cefas between 2013 and 2015, and (2) data collected by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group during the Irish Marine Institute’s Celtic Sea Herring Acoustic Survey between 2014 and 2018
  • Bycatch in commercial fisheries: Bluefin tuna were accidentally caught (bycatch) in the Irish commercial fishery for albacore tuna between 2003 and 2017.

 Tom Horton, Lead Author, University of Exeter said:

 “Atlantic bluefin tuna are once again a feature in nearshore waters off the UK and Ireland. We’ve been able to document this story by using data from a wide variety of sources. We need to work together to ensure a future for Atlantic bluefin tuna, both in the UK and Ireland and more broadly throughout their range in the Atlantic Ocean. This is a really exciting study and the return of these fish suggest an important role in the UK’s ecosystem.” 

Jeroen van der Kooij, Principal scientist and Peltic Survey Lead, Cefas said:  

“The unique data collected during our annual pelagic ecosystem survey of SW English waters, is fundamental to this research.  Marine animal observers from MARINELife on board our research vessel recorded not only the arrival, but also a subsequent year-on-year increase in sightings of bluefin tuna in the area. We will continue to collect this information, which, in combination with data on their prey fish and habitat collected during the same survey, will hopefully increase our knowledge of these exciting yet enigmatic animals.”


Atlantic bluefin tuna are known for being amongst the biggest, fastest and most valuable fish in the sea. They were once a common sight in UK waters, ranging throughout the Celtic and North Sea, and were a popular sport fish in the North Sea in the 1930s to the 1950s.  However, they largely disappeared from British waters in the 1960s, likely, as a result of population decline and changes in the availability of their preferred prey. 

In recent years, they have been observed more frequently in our coastal waters, particularly during the late summer, autumn and winter as they move into coastal areas to feed on energy rich pelagic fish, such as sprats and herring, in waters around the UK. There are multiple and complex reasons why their numbers may have increased, such as conservation measures and climate change impacts, including abundance of prey and changes to the marine environment.

Atlantic bluefin tuna can migrate over thousands of kilometres in a single year and occupy the coastal waters of Europe and the deep offshore environments of the North Atlantic. However, despite historic evidence of captures around the UK, we know relatively little detail of their day-to-day movements and behaviour, for example how long they stay in British waters and where they go, once they leave our coastal environment.

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