Littering is a problem that infuriates many anglers. Fortunately, people are starting to work out ways to deal with the problem. With the Vang5 campaign – an initiative by Sportvisserij Nederland, with support from Nederland Schoon – organised angling aims to take on the problem of littering nation-wide. The campaign week starts on Saturday, 24 April, while Vang5 will continue through the end of the year.
Local angling clubs throughout the country have been organising clean-up activities for years, but there has never before been a national initiative by an angling organisation. ‘So we thought it’s about time”, says Onno Terlouw, head of communications at Sportvisserij Nederland (Dutch angling association) about the campaign that he has personally initiated.
Naturally, Sportvisserij Nederland is calling on all of its foreign members to join our campaign to clean up litter around your fishing spot – in the Netherlands, as well as your home country.
“The principle is simple: every time you go fishing, clean up five pieces of litter around you, or clean up for five minutes. A small effort that can have a big effect. The idea was copied directly from the ‘take five’ principle that people in places like the United States and England have been promoting for years.”
Marco Kraal: “There are few things that are as irritating to me as arriving at a fishing spot that’s fouled with litter. To me, fishing is a nature experience 2.0, and I could definitely live without the litter. The worst kind is discarded fishing line and plastic, which eventually degrades into microscopic particles that can enter the food chain. Fishing line is a threat to waterfowl, but also cattle, sheep and horses. With all the anglers along the banks, it should be a cinch for us to keep them free of litter, shouldn’t it?!”
In every activity To make a real difference and set a good example, Sportvisserij Nederland quickly decided to expand the campaign. Terlouw: “We don’t just encourage the individual anglers, but will also include clean-up activities in everything we do; from youth events to fishery research and contests.
Cleaning up five pieces of litter is the minimum, but more is always better.” Since anglers spend so much time on the water, Terlouw expects that the campaign can make a big difference in the fight against litter. “If every angler picks up five pieces of rubbish just twice per year, that’s more than 10 million fewer pieces of litter each year.”
Enzo Knol: “This campaign is a great idea! Rubbish belongs in the bin, and nowhere else. The litter I notice most on the water are the countless crisps packets and plastic bottles, probably because they’re designed to catch the eye. I always take my rubbish home with me, even the smallest pieces of cut line. Hopefully that serves as an example to someone, and I’m definitely going to help promote the campaign among young people.”
“Litter on the banks is more difficult to clean up, because it’s harder to see among the rocks and plants”, says Mieke den Elzen from Nederland Schoon. “That means you have to pay special attention to it in order to clean it up. That’s why we’re such strong supporters of this initiative by Sportvisserij Nederland.”
Den Elzen believes that the campaign’s low-threshold structure is important. “It takes little effort to clean up a few pieces of rubbish, the higher goal is clear, and everyone can find five minutes to do it. Plus, I can imagine that it gives you as an angler a bit of extra satisfaction after a day out fishing.”
Jochem Myjer: “To me, it’s only logical for anglers to contribute to a cleaner environment. Our hobby is dependent on nature, so we should show how much we appreciate it by taking care of it. Our fishing spots deserve as much respect as the fish we catch. Discarded fishing lines are the worst, because that kind of rubbish can only be the responsibility of anglers like me. I often clean up around my fishing spot, and on the beach I always bring along a pick-up stick. I highly recommend it; it’s easy to carry, and it’s great for picking up litter.”
Rubbish with consequences Litter has many consequences for people and the environment. Many animals see small pieces of rubbish as food, and eventually their stomach or intestines can become blocked - often with death as a result. Birds and other animals can become tangled in fishing line, packaging materials or other kinds of waste. Another growing problem is microplastics: the microscopic particles that plastic rubbish decomposes into over the long term.
These particles can be ingested by fish and other water creatures, which are then eaten by birds and predatory fish. In the process, the plastic enters the entire food chain, all the way up to humans. A large percentage of rubbish in the water is plastic, according to fisheries research conducted by Sportvisserij Nederland and Rijkswaterstaat in the Waal river near Tiel. In recent years, enormous quantities of plastic have also been brought up as bycatch in fishers’ nets.
Nathalie van den Berg: “I’m extremely happy about this initiative. It’s even more powerful in that it comes from the anglers themselves, because for us nature is our ‘hobby room’, and it’s up to us to keep it clean. I regularly see litter along the piers and the Noordzeekanaal, varying from balls of nylon spaghetti to empty cans. I always bring along a bag when I go fishing, so that I can clean up some of the rubbish. Hopefully this campaign will encourage every angler to do that too.”
Share your catch on social media with the hashtag #vang5
Go to www.vang5.nl
for more information and to sign up.