Cash On The Barrelhead

Funding for sea angling projects is a major issue. While coarse and game anglers pay for a rod licence, and see a return on that in the form of funds for a number of different projects, sea anglers don’t which causes an understandable amount of frustration for those who know the social and economic contribution that sea angling makes – and the potential for delivering much, much more to coastal communities if it was given the opportunity to develop.

For this we need money. Sport England’s recent award of £1.8m to the Angling Trust, while it applies to all angling disciplines, is in real terms a cut in funding for the Trust and provided on the basis of strict performance targets that do not include economic growth or employment.

However, news from the European Parliament could see sea angling benefit from new funding streams after the European commission confirmed that sports projects will be eligible for funding in proposals for the new European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which is designed to support investments in growth and employment.

Concerns were raised late last year by French MEP, Sophie Auconie, that the ERDF Regulation did not extend its scope to sport despite a paper produced by the Commission concluding that sport has strong potential to contribute to sustainable growth and new jobs through its positive effects on social inclusion, education and training, and public health.

The Commission’s response to this on Monday February 25th confirmed that the regulation would allow sport to be included for investments in social, health and educational infrastructure as well as investment in equipment and small-scale infrastructure.

In addition to the ERDF (which will run from 2014 to 2020) sports projects will also be eligable to be co-financed by other EU funding sources including the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Agricultural Fund For Rural development, providing they meet certain criteria.

The share of EU GDP generated by sport is 1.76 per cent, and as much as 2.98 per cent if the indirect effects are also taken into account, and accounts for an estimated 2.12 per cent of all jobs in the EU, according to a study published in 2012 on the contribution of sport to economic growth and employment in the EU.

So it seems that, while the EU is seen as the axis of bureaucratic evil for many, sea anglers could potentially use it to develop the sport and in turn generate growth and employment in the EU economy. That’s assuming of course that our dear leader’s referendum on the UK’s involvement in Europe doesn’t suddenly leave us on the wrong side of the funding fence…