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Help us Catch the Data! The Sea Angling Diary project

Dr Adam Brown, Substance


Since 2015 Substance has been running a unique online diary tool for anyone who fishes in the sea – even if only occasionally on holiday.

The project was set up to help the UK Government monitor and report the impact of recreational sea angling to the European Commission.

The Sea Angling research programme was instigated in the UK in 2015, and is run by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas – in collaboration with Substance.

Working with both our research and technology teams, Substance developed a bespoke online diary tool to help people record when they fish in the sea, what they catch and what they spend.


Do you or your clients or participants fish in the sea? If so, we want to hear from them – go to:

Currently, 1,300 recreational sea anglers are part of the project and it is open to anyone to join. In fact, the more the merrier!

The project is particularly concerned with catches of key species such as Atlantic sea bass, cod, pollack, sharks, skates and rays, eels and salmon. These are subject to regulations to try and manage marine stocks sustainably and reverse the decline in numbers of some species, notably bass. However, the Sea Angling Diary project concerns all species and all anglers – so we want to hear from dedicated anglers and occasional holiday fishers alike.



The Sea Angling Diary Study adopted a three-stage approach.

  1. An annual, nation-wide household survey (the National Watersports Survey) to estimate the total number and profile of people who went sea fishing in the preceding 12 months.
  2. A survey run by Substance asking those who fish in the sea to join diary study.
  3. An online diary tool which people fill in every month to say whether they’ve been fishing or not and what they caught (or didn’t!).

Substance has developed partnerships with Fishing Megastore (one of the largest angling retailers) and Sea Angler magazine. Everyone who takes part is entered into regular draws for fishing tackle vouchers, Amazon vouchers and free magazines.

Join up here and enter:

Each diarist also receives a ‘diary pack’ with log in details, fish identification and measurement booklet, waterproof notebook and tape measure.

Numbers have gone up from 500 in the first year to 1,300 in 2018. And it’s still growing.



Results from the first two years are expected later this year.

Initial analysis of 2016 suggested that:

  • 1.7% of the adult population of the UK, almost 875,000 people, went sea angling – fishing with a rod and line in the sea – at least once in 2016.
  • In total, they fished for over 7 million days, an average of 8 days per person.
  • The highest numbers of fish caught were mackerel and whiting.
  • In total, 63 million fish were caught of 43 species, totalling 38,293 tonnes.
  • Release rates for bass were very high at 97% – possibly due to new bass management measures.


Please Help!

Everyone who goes fishing in the sea is encouraged to take part in the study – whether they fish once or twice a year in the sea, or very regularly.

Please go to and forward this address to anyone who may be interested.

For more information, materials or a demo of the dairy tool, contact