BIRMINGHAM AA club official John Williams is calling for all rod licence holders to have an official referendum to sort out the river fishing Close Season chaos.

Birmingham AA have put the pressure on the rising issue, just as the 2017/18 river season neared its end, for the March 15 to June 15 (inclusive) Close Season.

The Angling Trust are remaining neutral at a time when a major review of the Close Season is due to be published.

The Trust have one ‘keep’, one ‘change’ and one ‘scrap’ voice on a three-man panel that is sitting on an official Environment Agency review.

Many anglers fear the EA will never scrap the Close Season which was abandoned on lakes back in 1994.

Now John Williams, chairman of mighty Birmingham AA, thinks the EA should officially ask rod licence holders to vote in a full referendum when they renew their annual licence.

Birmingham AA chief John told Angler’s Mail: “I reckon there should be an online referendum where all anglers could have a vote regarding the Close Season when they renew their annual rod licence.

“Unlike Brexit, I’m sure there would be a very decisive majority in favour of abolition which should settle the matter once and for all.”

Birmingham AA chief says act soon

John continued: “We need the Angling Trust as our representative body to get off the fence and come out strongly in favour of abolition which I’m sure the majority of anglers want, but they are frightened of upsetting people against change.”

“There has never been any true scientific basis for the close season, it is just one of these historic anomalies.

“Fish have survived and prospered in stillwaters where there is no close season so why shouldn’t they on our rivers? After all a roach is a roach wherever it is.

“When it (the Close Season) was abolished on our lakes and canals, some people were predicting a disaster but it proved a great boost for angling and even revolutionised fishing, prompting the huge growth of commercial fisheries.

“Fishing has actually improved on our canals as well and I’m sure there would be absolutely no change on our rivers, plus it would be a great shot in the arm for our tackle trade and boost angling generally.

John put forward a way to decide the validity of a rivers Close Season – but still says urgent action is required.

John told Angler’s Mail: “One idea to research the issue properly would be to abolish the Close Season on say five different rivers for five years and then compare how the fish stocks fare with five similar rivers where the rivers have remained closed – I would publicly eat my hat if any difference was found.

“But that would of course take time and money, and should have bee done years ago, and really we need action in the near future,” Birmingham AA leader John concluded.

The Angling Trust wouldn’t be drawn to whether there should be a proper referendum for rod licence holders on the Close Season debate.

Martin Salter, Trust campaigns chief, said: “The Trust regional forums have already been debating the issue and the discussions have been respectful and informative.

‘It is only right and proper that our voices are heard on an issue that evokes strong opinions either way.”

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More from Angler’s Mail about the Close Season