The Government recognizes and encourages the conservation work carried out by shooters and anglers, the Minister for Agriculture and Food Jim Paice told delegates at the Conservative party conference on Monday. Speaking at the Rural Reception, hosted by the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), and the Angling Trust, Mr. Paice said: “What you represent here is the Big Society in action. We don’t go out in the countryside just to pull the trigger or float a fly; we are out there day in, day out working for conservation.”
Independent research has shown that people involved in shooting carry out conservation work worth £250 million every year.* Mr. Paice also said that the Government does not intend to interfere with fieldsports where it is not necessary, but said it was important for shooting and fishing to ensure everything was being done properly and was above reproach.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for shooting and conservation, told the meeting that everyone who shoots or fishes should encourage others to come out into the countryside to find out the real story of what goes on. Mr. Clifton-Brown said the days of the perceived rural/urban divide are over.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, called for reform of the Environment Agency, closer attention to water quality and greater protection for fish stocks in coastal waters. John Swift, chief executive of BASC, welcomed a Defra team with practical countryside experience and said shooting’s main concern is the review of firearms law being carried out by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr. Swift called for a proper review on the basis of facts.
*(source: PACEC study 2006)