Welcome from the new Director of the ACA
I am delighted to be writing my first welcome introduction to an update from the ACA. For the last 10 years, I have been running Thames 21, a charity that has been dedicated to improving and enhancing Londonís rivers and canals by mobilising thousands of volunteers. This has been ideal preparation for my new role leading the most powerful member organisation dedicated to protecting our countryís fisheries.
I have been reading about the history and achievements of the ACA in its 57 year history. Its record speaks for itself. It has won thousands of cases against polluters (the losses can be counted on the fingers of one hand) and has created a very effective deterrent against would-be polluters. Millions of pounds of damages awarded by the Courts have been spent to repair and protect the fisheries. Importantly, the ACA never charges its members for representing them in legal proceedings. The services of the legal unit are free of charge to members as part of what they receive for their annual membership fee. The ACA has also done much unpublicised work responding to membersí legal queries across the full range of angling law and lobbying government for changes in legislation. I am a life-long angler and environmentalist and am extremely proud and excited to be joining this organisation. Members are intensely loyal to the ACA and make it clear how important its work is to them. However, there is much more work to be done and I intend to put in place an ambitious threeyear plan for the Association to take it to its 60th birthday in 2008. Part of this plan is likely to include registering the ACA as a charity which would make our income go further and open up new opportunities for funding.
The ACA will be looking at ways in which it can use its reputation and expertise to protect rivers and lakes from diffuse pollution. Individual pollution spills can kill vast numbers of fish, but non-point-source pollution can cause the same number of deaths by a thousand cuts. The new EU Water Framework Directive will put a duty on the Environment Agency to ensure that all water bodies are of good quality. Unless the ACA and others deal with diffuse pollution, this objective has no hope of being achieved. I want to build on the ACAís existing links with the Rivers Trusts that are springing up across the country. £415,000 damages won by the ACA in 1999 led to the setting up of the Eden Rivers Trust in Cumbria which has since used this money as a foundation to bring in millions more to protect and improve this beautiful river system. The ACA should help clubs that receive damages make the most of it in this way. Members have requested more information about the ACA. The ACA website (www.a-c-a.org) will be redeveloped and I will ensure that it informs members and is updated regularly with news items. It will also provide members with access to ACA accounts and other information about the ACA and how it is run. The site could also provide legal advice to support the helpline and must publicise the ACAís work much better than in the past. The ACAís work is entirely funded by the contributions of its members. On the riverbank, in the pub, in the chat rooms, you can support the ACA by persuading individuals to join and to put pressure on their clubs to join. If the owners of the fishing rights are not members, then the ACA cannot act on their behalf if disaster strikes. There are between 3 and 4 million anglers in this country. They all benefit from the work of the ACA, but everyone is surely aware that this requires funding. I would like all existing subscribers to help us double our number. Itís a simple idea, but if every club recruits another club and every angler recruits another angler, then this will allow the ACA to recruit new staff to support Karen Capper and Guy Linley-Adams, its environmental solicitors, and its excellent legal team. This will bring with it very much wider benefits for the water environment as a whole. Over the coming year, ACA staff will be visiting shows and game fairs throughout the country. I look forward very much to meeting you all at one of these events and to listening to your thoughts about ways in which we can work together to protect our unique rivers and lakes. Mark Lloyd