(This story was first published in The Herald, 14 June 2008)

SEA ANGLING  in Scotland has won Scottish Executive funding worth around £40,000 to undertake the first serious study into its economic impact.

A team of economists led by senior lecturer Alan Radford from Glasgow Caledonian University’s public policy division this week launched a comprehensive online survey which will gather information about the recreational sea fishing habits of anglers whether Scottish residents or visitors.

Conservationists claim that more than £20m a year is being lost to the Scottish economy through lack of fish stocks and facilities from a sport which they say already generates £150m annually.

However, they admit that reliable up-to-date statistics do not exist. Steve Bastiman, chairman of the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network, an independent charity, said yesterday:

“We have pressed the Scottish Executive hard for this and hope the findings will confirm that the value of this recreation is equivalent to commercial fishing and in turn will ensure that the government and other bodies give sea angling the attention and commitment it deserves.”

The study, the latest of several by the Caledonian team into the economics of UK angling, has already carried out a telephone survey of 15,000 Scottish households to establish the level of participation by residents and will be interviewing active anglers at certain key locations in the months ahead. Commercial interests will also be examined.

Radford added: “We intend to produce detailed insights into some coastal areas, specifically Luce Bay, Loch Etive, Firth of Clyde, Orkney and the East Grampians.

Results will be published by the Executive in early 2009.