A signing in sheet provided records that 30 anglers and interested parties gathered at Honingham Village hall for this first of a series of meetings arranged by John Abbott & Tom Pinborough to be held across the Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee area.

The meeting was promptly opened at 7.30 p.m by Tom Pinborough who thanked everyone for attending and gave a brief explanation of the reasons for arranging the meet. Tom introduced himself and outlined his past involvement in conservation and angling administration issues. He went on to explain that he has been joined as DEFRA appointed RSA representatives to the Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee by John Abbott who, during 2008, has filled a vacancy left by the departure of Steve Copolo in 2007.

Both Tom & John explained that the primary reason for calling the meeting was in an attempt to improve direct involvement with active RSAs in the area and to measure the level of support for attempts to establish more efficient communications, which could hopefully lead to stronger local representation in the future. It was also made clear that this meeting was not a promotional exercise for Angling Trust or the ESFJC.

These aspirations seemed to find favour with the meeting and quite quickly a number of speakers made supportive comments, Dave Vicary expressed support for the general aims and touched on some of the difficulties, whilst Phil Gaywood raised the need for RSA to obtain a truly professional lobbying voice if real change were ever to be achieved. Jamie Bale spoke of the general support that he and his colleagues might be able to offer.

In response to a number of questions from the floor, Tom Pinborough gave a technical explanation regarding UK RSA representative structure and John reminded the meeting that the recent well publicised proposals regarding Article 47 of the EU CFP were not the only challenges facing RSAs at present. Both John & Tom made clear that what seems to be needed is a strong support structure at local level, which is based on the skills that individuals could provide to help establish that development.

Maria Heritage was amongst the first to volunteer direct help and a number of others quickly joined in with offers of a wide range of skills that could help to provide an active local anglers support and representative network.

The meeting was asked for a show of hands on the question of whether this was considered to be a necessary development and whether we should continue to work toward a formal establishment in the near future. There was a unanimous vote in favour of that proposition. It was agreed that we look into setting up a network of contacts and formulating a ‘communications tree’ as soon as the other planned meetings in Suffolk & Lincolnshire have taken place.
After a short break for welcome refreshment, the meeting re-convened and looked at the role of The Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee and its composition. Tom gave a brief summary of the committee’s responsibilities and referred in particular, to the 2009-10 Business Plan in which ‘Objective 2′ refers to ‘Development of a RSA District Strategy’ with the declared intention of providing ‘a framework by which RSA activities are promoted & developed within the District’. Several people present questioned what this meant for anglers and both Tom & John made clear that no-one yet knows what the detail will show, but both have concerns that the level of investment currently earmarked for this is very low.

Whilst there were many more questions from the floor and in particular from Keith Mountifield, Matt Lawes, Dave Vicary and Phil Gaywood to name just a few, time was pressing on and with much still to cover, anglers were advised that the Committee RSA members would endeavour to convey further information as it becomes available. The meeting was asked whether anglers were generally satisfied that these two representatives should continue to represent the RSA case. The proposal that the meeting was happy Tom & John should continue in this role received unanimous support, with no objections.

The meeting moved on to discuss the matter of other forthcoming legislation and Tom gave a description of the moves that lead to the creation of Marine Control Zones (MCZs) and marine protected areas (MPAs) and what this means for future fisheries management whilst John provided a number of handouts to assist anglers better understanding of these issues.

Time was pressing and although there were many issues that raised questions from the floor, the evening closed at around 22.30 hours with general consensus that it had been very worthwhile exercise and there is hope for the establishment of an effective regional RSA representative network in the near future.

Further discussions on this will take place and it has become clear that we may find it necessary to create a formal structure with an agreed constitution and appointed post-holders. A number of titles might be appropriate and John Abbott suggests ELSAA as one option.( Eastern Leisure Sea Anglers Alliance.). Tom has other possibilities in mind and perhaps future meetings will establish something widely acceptable.

John Abbott
(The Fenland Artist) for further details see:
(DEFRA appointed RSA representative – Eastern Sea Fisheries Joint Committee)

Posted by on Mar 2nd, 2009 and filed under General Fishing News. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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