A TV chef is hoping to highlight the plight of fish with a new campaign in Dorset.
Hugh Fearnley-Whitting-stall, of River Cottage fame, has teamed up with Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Recycle Fish Campaign to promote a new code of conduct for sea anglers visiting the county’s coast.
He launched it in Weymouth where it has generally been welcomed by the local angling community.
‘Tacklebox Tips’ laminated cards will be distributed to anglers through clubs, charter vessels and displayed in tackle shops throughout the county.
Some 10,000 cards have been printed and give advice to anglers about how best to enjoy their sport and have as minimal an impact on the environment as possible, even though the code is not enforceable by law and is advisory.
The code has been the joint work of the Recycling Fish Campaign and Dorset Wildlife Trust and is being headed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
He said: “Congratulations to the Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Recycle Fish Campaign for working together in the creation of the Anglers Code of Conduct Initiative.
“This waterproof tackle box card will be very useful to recreational sea anglers and I hope everyone will not only embrace the principle of catch and release, but also adopt the recommended methods of handling and caring for our sea fish and the marine environment in which they live.”
The initiative has been welcomed by anglers and fishermen.
Recycling Fish campaigner Dave Gibson said the main target audience for the code of conduct was recreational sea anglers, shore anglers and those starting out in the sport.
He said: “The campaign needed someone like Hugh, who is recognised by members of the public.
“It also fits in with what he is trying to do with commercial fishing and reducing discard. This is the same principal on a smaller scale.”
Mr Gibson added that often the amount of fish recycled in a catch depended on the type being caught.
He said: “About 80 per cent of rays that are caught are returned alive, same with bream, dog fish and conger eels.”
But fish like cod often had to be kept because after being pulled up from depth they would not be able to be released as they would die.
Carp fisherman Tom Haige, who works at Weymouth Angling Centre, said he welcomed the new code of conduct.
He said: “I think it’s absolutely brilliant. I’m a carp fisherman and it’s all about looking after the fish. You never keep a carp, you put them back to enjoy the sport another day.”
Steve Clements, from Weymouth, is a boat fisherman who will be representing England in the forthcoming English, Home Nations and European Championships.
He said: “If Hugh can get the message out to youngsters, tourists and people coming into the sport then that’s good.”
To download a copy visit www.recyclefish.com