The recreational fishing industry is coming together in protest against Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and to help ease the humanitarian crisis it has caused.
Some companies have joined the escalating sanctions against Russia while other organisations have rallied to help the millions made homeless by the war.
The country once seen as a growth opportunity by western fishing tackle manufacturers and brands is now being shunned as punitive sanctions are imposed and companies rethink their position.
Zebco Europe is among a number of brands who have stopped selling to Russia. The Confédération Internationale de la Pêche Sportive (CIPS) has banned Russia and Belarusian teams from international competition and Normark Baltics/Rapala VMC has collected essentials such as clothing and hygiene products for those left homeless by the war.
Many more are expected to cut ties with Russia as governments ramp up punitive economic sanctions in response to the aggression. Emotional reactions on social media reflect the public’s perception and have helped rally support from the industry.
“Sportfishing around the world must speak,” said Ioannis Giannopoulos, a distributor of tackle in Greece and Cyprus. “Will the recreational fishing industry and fishing brands remain silent about this devastating war or will it take a stand against this crime?” he challenged.
Rase Miskiniene, Finance Director at Normark Baltics/Rapala VMC, added: “We collected humanitarian support for Ukraine in Kaunas, Lithuania, including warm clothes, shoes, blankets and hygiene products. Other people have offered their homes and apartments for Ukrainian women and children. I am proud of my country and city.”
Another company to make its position clear is JD Sports, owner of the Fishing Republic retail chain. “JD has ceased all trading in Russia across both its brand websites and wholesale channels,” said a company statement. “In addition to many personal collections and activities from our colleagues across the group, we will look to support those affected through our verified charity partners.”
CIPS President Ugo Matteoli said that the CIPS had followed the International Olympic Committee’s recommendation ‘to temporarily ban the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes, national teams and clubs in any CIPS/FIPS international championships.’
In the UK, a fundraising initiative has been set up by the Angling Trust, the representative body for anglers. ‘Anglers for Ukraine’ was launched at last weekend’s The Big One consumer fishing show. All monies raised will go to the Red Cross Ukrainian Crisis Appeal and will be match-funded by the British Government up to £20 million. The Big One exhibitor, Outlaw Pro, donated all revenue taken at the show, totaling about £10,000, to the appeal and will do the same at the Essex Carp Show at the end of this month.
“We will continue to raise money in one form or another for as long as the conflict continues,” said Outlaw Pro Managing Director Ian Smith. “It’s just the right thing to do.”