The report states that England’s water bodies provide enjoyment for almost one million anglers over a total of 17 million angling days per year. The overall value of England’s freshwater fisheries' natural capital is calculated to be a staggering £1.7 billion, plus several unquantified physical, mental health, and biodiversity benefits closely associated with recreational fishing. However, these benefits are under threat with only 15% of waterbodies in good ecological health and salmon at risk in 93% of rivers in England.
Arlin Rickard OBE, Chief Policy Advisor at The Rivers Trust, said: “it’s so important to have Natural Capital data like this calculated. The government has committed to achieving clean and plentiful water in three quarters of our waterbodies as soon as practicable. By working out the monetary value of freshwater fisheries, we hope we can strengthen the case to speed up their improvement, getting our rivers the vital and urgent support they require.
“After a period of significant grant in aid budget cuts to freshwater fisheries, urgent investment is needed to remove barriers and improve river environments for our migratory fish including salmon and eel.”
The report was compiled by Dr Dan Marsh, an Associate of The Rivers Trust, who said: “the natural capital approach is all about taking better decisions that take full account of the value of nature. I look forward to working with the Rivers Trust to restore our freshwater natural capital”
The development of the report is supported and welcomed by the Environment Agency and Angling Trust.
Jamie Cook, CEO at Angling Trust, commented on the report: "Anglers have a deep understanding of our freshwater environment. All over the country anglers and angling clubs are heavily involved in restoration and monitoring work and in many cases, they are the first to highlight threats such as pollution and abstraction. Anglers are the guardians of our waters, so being able to quantify the economic value of freshwater recreational fisheries is vital in ensuring the future protection of the rivers and lakes we all love. If fisheries are to continue to contribute such a huge amount to the economy, they need to be beautiful places, rich in wildlife and importantly support healthy fish stocks. This report adds weight to the need to protect our environment in the face of pollution, abstraction and the climate and biodiversity crisis. Healthy and abundant freshwater fish are a key component of any rich and diverse wildlife in Britain."
Photo credit: Paul Colley