Wednesday 15 October 2014

Join the new SGA Fishing Group.

As many will have heard, the SGA has formed a new SGA Fishing Group, which will operate in the same way as the grouse and deer groups currently do within the organisation.

Our new fishing group is for river workers and anglers. It has come about as a result of conversations with ghillie members, organisations and concerned individuals.

People are rightly worried about many issues and, although the SGA has always represented river ghillies, it was decided that greater representation was required in the shape of a new, dedicated group that could give a voice, often missing, to the working people on the rivers and to anglers keen to affect positive change to help preserve salmon and trout, jobs and the benefits to communities which stem from a healthy wild fisheries system.

As a process of working towards the formation of this group, the SGA Committee enlisted Duncan Ferguson last year as a new member, working alongside existing member, Colin Espie, a ghillie of nearly 40 years experience.

The group is now into Phase 2, which is seeking candidate representation from regions across Scotland, mindful that each river or geographical location is likely to have different priorities. In order to assist this process, regional meetings will be held over the coming months, in order to outline the aims and ethos, and expand the group’s membership and support.

The aim of the group is:

- to give a powerful voice to river workers and concerned anglers, in order to affect positive change and to preserve employment and the many benefits which come from healthy wild fisheries.
- to form its own policy direction, based on strong leadership and using the skills and knowledge of its members and supporters, gleaned over many years at a practical level.
- to engage effectively with policy makers and political departments, as part of an existing 5300-strong membership organisation, in order to advance its members’ interests.
- to ensure that the group’s interests are represented fairly and widely in the local and national media.

Some of the many issues already highlighted by the group are:

- the need for curbs on unrestricted netting
- the need for strong government leadership on the breaching of environmental standards by aquaculture companies in the west of Scotland
- the need for better data on wild fish populations
- the need for river workers to have greater say in major decisions potentially affecting their work, jobs and livelihoods such as the Scottish Government’s Land Reform aspirations.
- the need for increased predator control under licence and sustainable habitat improvement

If you are interested in joining the SGA Fishing Group and fighting the many issues facing your industry, you can do so now by subscribing as a member.

For £40 per year, you can join under the new ghillie/fishing category.

This not only gives you access to the group’s activities, it also gives you one of the best value country sports memberships in the UK including fishing and shooting liability insurance for individuals and syndicates (if you are also a shooter) and a host of other benefits indicated here

By subscribing, the funds will enable the group to support its work initially, whilst we will also be seeking donations, as the SGA also does in other operational areas, in order for us to be able to deliver campaign objectives.

If you want to keep in touch with the group’s activities but cannot commit time to assist, joining as a supporter member for £25 per annum will also keep you abreast of all group activities. It will also provide vital financial input towards a worthy goal.

Frequent posts on our website and social media platforms, as well as news and bulletins in our quarterly member magazine, will keep you up to date on campaigns, additions to the group and regional meeting dates as we take the group forward.

What the SGA has achieved to date and why joining the SGA will help get your voice heard:

Since its formation in 1997, the SGA

- has ensured its members are represented on all the major countryside stakeholder bodies at government and non-government level
- has lobbied Westminster, Holyrood and EU governments
- fought, through a 5000-strong march in Edinburgh and political engagement, the worst excesses of the Watson Bill, maintaining its members’ ability to flush foxes with terriers.
- campaigned for member rights to be able to use essential tools for predator control through the passage of the WANE Bill
- has informed governmental best practice guidelines on deer management, firearms, the Access Code and snaring
- delivered a 5400-strong petition to Holyrood, calling for an end to tail docking legislation, currently now under review.
- successfully fought for the retention of a system of  voluntary deer management rather than having deer numbers controlled by Holyrood.
- delivered its most successful year-long conservation campaign, the 2014 SGA Year of the Wader
- been a key stakeholder in Land Reform negotiations and in consultations on the Wild Fisheries Review
- has outlined proposals to put forward a ‘countryside MSP’ for election to the Scottish Parliament
- has inaugurated the Lea MacNally Deer Fund to fight deer-specific issues in Scotland
- has introduced the new SGA Fishing Group, to give river workers and anglers a greater voice to affect change in the fishing industry.