The 27th Wildfowling Conference was held on Saturday 28 March 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.
SUMMARY OF PRESENTATIONS
A new vision for the birds directive and the positive role of hunting
Cy Griffin, Director of Conservation, FACE
35 years ago the EU’s oldest piece of nature legislation – the EU Birds Directive – came into effect. It is one of the most important pieces of nature legislation, creating a comprehensive scheme of protection for all wild bird species naturally occurring in the Union. FACE has engaged with this legislation since the very beginning: FACE was founded in 1977 by national hunting associations to take part in the process of shaping the directive by providing hunters’ extensive knowledge of wildlife and habitats. And since those early days, FACE has remained very close to its roots and its commitment to bird conservation by continuing to work on issues related to birds and in particular migratory birds. For example, as a part of this work, FACE Members were integral in the establishment of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) in the 1990s.
To mark this special occasion FACE held a conference in Brussels on 23 September 2014. This was an opportunity to reflect on the history of the conservation of birds by contemplating the implementation of the directive itself and by highlighting actions taken by hunters. On the same occasion we marked 10 years of the BirdLife International-FACE Agreement signed in 2004. The conference support by the European Commission featured high-level speakers from EU institutions, including Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, NGOs, hunting and other conservation stakeholders to discuss actions to conserve our wild birds.
The aim of this conference was much more than a historic reflection. In 2015/16 the Birds Directive will be the under scrutiny of those at the highest political level in Brussels and within the EU Member States. Not since the early days of the directive, has it been more important to demonstrate the importance of hunting (inc. wildfowling) for a considerable number EU citzens, and its role in the conservation of birds.
Review of Wildlife Law
Nicola Tilche, Lawyer (Acting), Public Law Team, Law Commission
The Law Commission is an independent advisory body whose function is to review the law with a view to its simplification and modernisation.
The wildlife law project was proposed by Defra in 2011. The primary aim of the project is to rationalise wildlife legislation with a view to simplifying the law, increasing its flexibility and ensuring compliance with international and EU law. Since 2011 the Law Commission carried out a broad public consultation on a number of reform proposal (August – December 2012) and published an early Final Report on the control of invasive non-native species (February 2014) which has now been given effect through section 23 of the Infrastructure Act 2015. The Final Report on the remaining parts of the project, together with a draft Wildlife Bill, will be published in May 2015.
The Wildlife Bill will codify all species specific legislation on conservation, protection and exploitation of wildlife. Licensing regimes will be streamlined and additional powers will be introduced to vary close seasons and impose further conditions to ensure compliance with the Wild Birds Directive. In line with the Directive, the Final Report will also recommend changes to the definition of “wild bird” and to the scope of the mental element required for the commission of certain wildlife offences. Liability for wildlife crimes will be extended to employers or principals who knowingly cause or permit the commission of a wildlife crime by a person under their control. Maximum penalties for wildlife crime will be increased and the scope of the current civil sanctions regime extended.
Vote for Shooting! – BASC and the General Election
Christopher Graffius Director of Communications
BASC has always been a political organisation, but an all-party association. Politics is a key area for representing, promoting and protecting shooting. Unfortunately, most politicians don’t shoot, yet they have the power to do considerable damage to shooting. Our involvement in the general election on May 7th is therefore critical.
This will be the most unpredictable election for a generation with high expectations that the result will be a hung parliament which could be dangerous for shooting. BASC needs to collect as much information as possible on where MPs stand on shooting so that we can engage effectively after the election.
MPs, and candidates, are best engaged through their constituencies, so BASC has pioneered and produced the election campaign website which provides everything you need to lobby your candidates in advance of the election. It also provides information on where your candidates stand to inform how you cast your vote. In addition the BASC website contains downloadable resources such as a PR toolkit and infographics which you can use when meeting MPs/candidates or making presentations on shooting.
In particular, wildfowling clubs and committee members should ensure that they have contacted their candidates, are known to MP who is elected and know where their MP stands on shooting. Please inform BASC of the result of any contact with your MP/ candidates.
The BASC campaign site is here http://bit.ly/1BpxRWt
Conservation in Cumbria: Westmorland Wildfowlers Association
‘Grass roots’ conservation has been a fundamental part of the Westmorland Wildfowlers Association since the clubs formation back in 1950. Our clubs founder members were key players in securing much of what we have today, and, 65 years on, we owe it to them and future generations to perpetuate the activities of the W.W.A.
Like all U.K clubs, the modern day W.W.A. faces the ever increasing challenges from regulators and conservation legislation, but having officers with a positive outlook and a determination to succeed, has ensured the club is already in a better position to defend wildfowling on the River Kent estuary well into the 21st century.
Our conservation portfolio has undoubtedly been the ‘ace up our sleeve’ when demonstrating our activities to the regulators and to those who have little knowledge of wildfowlers and wildfowling. Having an active conservation strategy has helped the club forge better links with our local conservation groups, as well as the local landowners and tenant farmers. It has improved the sporting opportunities for the club members in addition to providing a platform upon which we can train our young members. All new W.W.A. recruits are taught that wildfowling and conservation go together and this is the ‘ethos’ that they are expected to adopt if they wish to remain a Westmorland wildfowler.
This presentation focuses on the conservation work of the W.W.A., highlighting several major areas that we have been developed in order to benefit the sporting opportunities for members as well as raising the clubs profile and its overall image. “Putting something back” is really what it’s all about, and so the talk will focus on six key areas that the club regards as being vitally important:- 1) Working with others, 2) Creating new wetland habitat, 3) Tackling disturbance and creating refuges, 4) Ways of improving wild stocks with artificial nest sites 5) Diversification and land purchase and lastly 6) Getting the message out there by actively promoting wildfowling and conservation.
Growing clubs? Recruitment & retention figures in wildfowling clubs and the role of mentors
Mark Greenhough, BASC Wildfowling Officer
This presentation takes an in depth look at the subject of recruitment and retention in UK wildfowling clubs. Using statistics taken from the BASC membership database, analysis on a level of detail never done before is presented and explored. From this, we can see exactly how many people are recruited to wildfowling clubs and also how many people leave club membership, and more importantly leave BASC membership and thereby shooting as a whole. The main focus of the presentation is retention of members. Reasons for good and poor retention are explored using never before utilised statistics and GIS mapping. There is information on the current research on recruitment and retention in shooting from both the UK and waterfowling in the USA. Recommendations of how BASC and wildfowling clubs can work together to further investigate and improve retention is discussed. It is argued that good levels of retention are absolutely vital for the continued good fortunes of wildfowling and for promoting the sport and to foster healthy, thriving clubs.