Have you ever taken a punt on a GoFundMe or similar crowd funded campaign? You know the sort, an ‘if we raise £X, we can deliver this’ kind of thing. Sometimes there’s an early release or prototype product at the end of it for you, as is the nature of KickStarter projects. Other times, it’s just to raise funds for something like an initiative to clean the oceans, a project to reduce the number of stray cats on a Greek island or even to get someone life saving private surgery.

All of them have one thing in common. They ask us to stump up some hard-earned cash on the premise of some good coming from it. There’s little in the way of guarantees and there’s no reviews to read to ensure the money isn’t wasted, as it’s all just an idea at this stage and rarely will there be any chance of a refund if things don’t pan out. Yet, millions of pounds are crowdfunded every day on these bases alone.

£29 isn't much to be asking for when you consider the potential upside

So what’s the relevance to angling here? Well, there’s a cause out there that is not that different to these crowdsourcing campaigns. They seek a donation from you of £29 and in exchange they offer to:

  • Fight and lobby to improve fish stocks
  • Increase angling coaching and education
  • Fight against restricted angler access and anti-angling campaigns
  • Support environmental campaigning for anglers and fishing

On top of that, they’ll give you insurance with an indemnity of £10m for civil claims as well as a tackle voucher worth £29 – yes, the exact sum they seek as a donation. Thus, in theory, if you’re in the market for a spool of line and a few packets of hooks, the donation will be made from the money you’ve spent on that tackle! Whilst this does sound too good to be true, the conditions for eligibility for the tackle voucher are that you sign up to a recurring payment plan. However, there’s nothing to stop you cancelling that plan before recurring years’ payments are made. 

Remember to use the FM offer code (though you will be asked again to choose your gift later)

So why aren’t we all flooding to make these donations? Because the cause is the Angling Trust and the donation is for AT membership. For many, there are historical associations that prevent us from even pausing to think about putting our hands in our pockets to offer support. The debacle over the Sea Angling 2012 report, the questionable handling of the bass ban over the years, the unavoidable fact that it is an institution steeped in the freshwater side of our sport with very little historical involvement in sea angling. You only need to mention the Angling Trust in an online discussion to trigger passionate debate with many raising individual grievances.

Thus the common conclusion and reason for a distinct lack of individual memberships of the Angling Trust by sea anglers is, rather ironically, a lack of trust in the Trust. The rather Monty Python-esque question often banded about is ‘what has the Angling Trust ever done for us sea anglers?’ Whilst a list of items can be reeled off in response to this, there is equally an acceptance from those in the Trust that substantially less has been done for our side of the sport than our freshwater counterparts and with good reason: funding.

It is important when you sign up to indicate an interest for sea angling, as this will in part dictate where funds are spent

There is no hiding that without funding, little can ever be achieved. The Angling Trust, by virtue of revenue raised through rod license sales, have a reliable and consistent source of income for freshwater angling. Ring fencing, to an extent, has to be applied to maintain integrity. If they spent all of these funds on matters pertaining to sea angling, our freshwater counterparts would be up in arms and rightly so. Thus, there’s very little to argue with when the Trust tells us that they can’t do a great deal more without our support. So, we find ourselves in a chicken and the egg scenario. The Angling Trust needs the funding to come before the delivery, while the angler seeks some substance before investing. How does one square this circle?

I have previously detailed a number of methods for the Trust to show that they can truly represent sea anglers ahead of a push for investment. But the reality is that, while they have funded issues to work on, why would the AT make a big effort to win over a market that largely seems to have already made up their minds about them? As a result of this impasse, we continue to hear that the Trust will support us if only we support them. Any criticism of their actions is met by a riposte of, ‘Well are you a member?’ I, for one, do not think this defence has a leg to stand on for an organisation claiming to be the representative body of all anglers. If they seek to use that defence, they should change their claims to only represent their members. Still, it’s a defence they persist with.

There are other gift offers, but the £29 tackle voucher is by far the best return for your money, in fact it's a full return of your money!

So, imagine we could kill this defence once and for all. Imagine if we could remove that singular defence so that they truly were accountable to us. Imagine that they couldn’t hide behind it when a distinct lack of sea angling representation within the Trust is wholly apparent. Well, we can get rid of that defence and we can do it while acquiring some line, a few packs of hooks and a £10m insurance policy as a freebie. 

I’m going to ask each and every one of you to do as I have done now. Sign up to the Angling Trust. Give them our support for a year and then hold them accountable with clinical scrutiny over how they represent sea anglers, having finally got the funding they have sought. There can only be a set number of outcomes if enough of us get behind this:

  • The Angling Trust deliver. This is the best possible outcome for us all and will justify the continued membership fee 
  • The Angling Trust fail to deliver and can no longer hide behind the defence of a lack of funding. The arguments for a truly representative sea angling body to be formed in its place gains more traction

So who will join me in taking a punt? After all, if you pick up the £29 tackle voucher on joining, it genuinely does not need to cost you a penny above what you will have already spent on gear. As far as risk free gambles go, this is as good as it gets. The upsides to it paying off are massive, while the downsides are no additional expense and the erosion of their sole defence in failing to offer an adequate representation of sea anglers over the years. 

To sign up, go to https://joinanglingtrust.net/individual-membership-recurring-payment/ and remember to use the joining gift code FM in the offer code field to get a £29 tackle voucher. Then simply remember to cancel the recurring payment before the year is out, unless the Angling Trust have delivered for us of course, in which case we may finally decide they are worthy of our investment. 

It certainly feels like a punt worth taking. 

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