Sportfiskarna was founded in 1919 to represent the interests of the recreational anglers of Sweden. For over 100 years, the main goal of the association has been to ensure that anglers can enjoy clean waters and healthy fish stocks.

Recreational fishing is one of the most popular leisure activities in Sweden. It is estimated that around two million people practice it and they spend more than SEK 5 billion (€ 500 million) each year on their hobby. Sportfiskarna alone counts around 63,000 affiliated members and 400 fishing clubs.

(c) Markus Lundgren

Many of the activities run by Sportfiskarna are focused on the protection of the aquatic environment both in freshwaters and at sea. In the last few years, Sportfiskarna has coordinated many actions to counteract eutrophication in the Baltic Sea and has run many campaigns to protect iconic species such as the Baltic Salmon from overfishing. Protection of the eel and establishing a ban on bottom trawling near the coasts are other important issues for the association.

Many efforts are also put into protecting freshwater species and every year around 100.000 anglers volunteer to work on river restoration and other water-related projects. Thanks to their efforts and good funding opportunities, Sportfiskarna has gained many new members and has grown rapidly in the last decade.

With a staff of 60 full-time employees and ten offices, Sportfiskarna is able to manage different projects to remove man-made barriers such as hydropower dams from rivers and facilitate fish migration.

One of Sportfiskarna's biggest and most successful project involves the protection of pike through the restoration of wetlands located next to water bodies in order to re-create the ideal spawning grounds while fostering habitat and biodiversity protection. This takes place along Sweden´s Baltic Sea coast, which also means that the nutrients losses from the agricultural sector are collected by the wetlands and they do not end up in the already eutrophicated Baltic Sea.

(c) Markus Lundgren

Giving kids the opportunity to fish and teaching them about nature protection remains one of the main goals of the association. For 2020, Sportfiskarna and its 400 fishing clubs will organise fishing and water excursions for 42.000 children. This includes fishing activities on school time, after school time and during holidays. Education material about the aquatic environment, knowledge about common Swedish fish species and information about the unique Swedish right of public access to roam freely in nature (the Allemansrätt) are also important parts of Sportfiskarna´s work.

Finally, Sportfiskarna campaigns at the national level and at the European level through the work of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) for better management of fish stocks. They demand a new approach to fisheries management, one that factors in environmental considerations and that distributes fishing opportunities by taking into accounts the socio-economic impact of the different sectors. The unique situation with strong fish stocks thanks to the trawl ban in the Öresund straight is a good example. In the end, clean waters and healthy fish stocks is important not only for anglers but for the whole ecosystem.

(c) Emil Österlin

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