The Torbay Sea Angling Festival
TORBAY SEA ANGLING FESTIVAL CONSERVATION POLICY
The TSAF is affiliated to the Angling Trust and supports the conservation of sea species within the context of an Open Sea Angling Festival in which boat and shore angler’s fish against each other for prizes and awards.
The AT has guidelines, summarised below, on fish conservation methods which have formed the basis for the TSAF to explore and develop its own ongoing policy for the conservation of sea species.
Shore Fishing Competitions
The AT has guidelines for catch, weigh and release of fish in sea angling competitions, but considerations for the welfare of the fish must be paramount. In general AT recommends a system of measurement and immediate fish return, where competitions can be fully stewarded, and a match card recording/signing system is in place. A points system is recommended to determine winners based on each centimetre length of each fish caught. At the discretion of the organisers, a catch, weigh and return procedure can be operated, but this requires enough suitable sets of calibrated scales and stewards.
Boat Fishing Competitions
The AT states that the guidelines for shore competitions cannot be applied to boat competitions because of the physical difficulties of effectively weighing or measuring or recording fish on a moving vessel. The welfare and treatment of fish to enable their survival is even more problematic from a boat situation. Again a points system is recommended for fish caught, with adequate stewarding for the recording process.
Other Conservation Guidelines
The AT has also considered scenarios and options where other conservation methods could be employed for Competitions, such as limiting the number or rods or hooks being used by anglers, or limiting the numbers of each specie caught. Other options would be to increase the minimum size or minimum weight for fish caught, and /or increase the specimen weights for fish that can be caught. Another is to return all fish alive immediately and award points only.
There are decisions to be made here about what is the best conservation option balance that still allows the overall competition to be a test of ability, which also does not discourage the individual angler from entering a Competition.
The AT recognises that there is no simple solution when attempting to conserve fish in the setting of an Angling Competition. The competition organisers are those who have to consider their own particular situation and decide the best way forward after considering all the options.
TORBAY SEA ANGLING FESTIVAL POLICY
The TSAF Committee are aware that conservation over time is paramount for the future of Sea Angling, both boat and shore. Discussion and review of the various AT guidelines and options has been undertaken, considering the pro’s and con’s of each for species conservation, and the overall implications upon the TSAF.
The essence of the Festival is that it offers a nine day continuous roving sea angling competition, with cash and tackle prize awards for the boat angler, the shore angler and it also offers awards where the boat and shore anglers are in direct competition for prizes and awards.
Given the flexibility of this structure, which the committee feels is currently and attraction to entry, it is considered that the introduction of a either a catch, weigh and release system, a measure and release system, or a release and points based system are not practically feasible for numerous reasons. The TSAF conservation policy below will remain under review into the future, as new conservation possibilities may develop that could be compatible with the current structure of the Festival.
Therefore, at this time, the TSAF Committee has concluded and decided that the best option for conserving species for both the boat and shore angler in the future is to review the fish minimum sizes, review fish specimen weights, and raise the minimum percentage weigh in size of the fish specimen weight for entry. This will have an immediate effect on reducing the number of fish being weighed in, and the fish that are captured are more likely to survive if returned more quickly than using weigh and release or measure and release methods.
Having reviewed the 2022 results of the percentages of fish weighed in relative to prizes won and the lowest winning percentages, the Committee decision to raise the minimum percentage to 75% of Specimen Weight for Seniors, did reduce the number of fish weighed at the scales, although the poor weather may also have affected the number of fish weighed. The Committee has decided to retain the Senior 75% minimum weigh-in percentage going forward into the 2023 Festival. The Junior minimum percentage of 50% of Specimen Weight will remain for Junior anglers going forward into the 2023 Festival. Juniors fishing as Seniors will have the minimum weigh-in percentage set at 75% of Specimen weight.
The TSAF Conservation Policy will be reviewed yearly.
The TSAF Committee will also work to encourage anglers to bring fish to the scales alive whenever possible for immediate return after weighing.
Angling Trust Guideline pages for Conservation Methods for Judging Sea Angling Competitions and Catch and Release in Shore and Boat Matches.