ROD licence holders look like being the key to getting the river Close Season changed.

The eagerly awaited river Close Season evidence review has been published ….and the key now is what happens when 20,000 rod licence holders get asked for what they want to happen.

The balanced review conducted by the Environment Agency together with the Angling Trust and Institute of Fisheries Management gives no clear reason to keep the Close Season.

It looks like the choice of anglers could sway for the March 14 to June 14 river shutdown to be abolished. But it’s all far from certain yet.

Angling Trust reveal ‘random stratified survey of up 20,000’

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust said: “We have been asked by the EA to lead on publicising the review.

“As a next step, the EA will be taking a snapshot of anglers’ support for retaining, reforming or removing the current regulation in England which involves a random stratified survey of up 20,000 licence holders, covering all age groups.

“This will indicate whether the EA has a mandate to proceed with a formal review of the byelaw. If it believes there is a case and support for proceeding, it will formally consult later this year, giving all anglers, fishery owners and others the opportunity to voice their opinion on future options for the close season.”

Mark Lloyd

Mark Lloyd

Mark continued: “Any future decision on the Close Season will be made by Government, following a critical examination of the evidence and arguments for and against change.

“The Trust will not take any formal position in lobbying for a change in the river Close Season until we see all the evidence and the views of our members and various groups of anglers.

“We want anglers on both sides of this debate to have their voices heard and for the arguments to be tested,” he concluded.

Environment Agency to get views around the country

Kevin Austin, deputy director of fisheries at the EA said: “We will now be getting views from anglers up and down the country to help us decide on next steps and if indeed a review of the existing byelaws is the best option.

“Before we continue, we want to make sure a review is supported by anglers so we are inviting 20,000 fishing licence holders to take part in a short survey.

“The results will help us determine next steps and if there is a case for reviewing the Close Season byelaw and the scope of that review.”

Kevin Austin

Kevin Austin

Kevin continued: “Our Fisheries work is part funded by Rod License Income and we have a responsibility to all Rod License customers to ensure their money is spent well.  The work required to prepare for and analyse a full public consultation is a significant resource commitment.

“If we decide to review the byelaw, we will consult publicly, giving everyone in the angling community and others the opportunity to comment, to help develop our proposals,” he added.

Time for Close Season change, says Birmingham boss

OUTSPOKEN John Williams, chairman of mighty Birmingham AA, believes this is the time for change.

John told Angler’s Mail: “The review document is very cleverly worded and clearly the Angling Trust itself is sitting on the fence.

The comments they have produced from their member celebrity anglers suggest a bias in favour of preserving the status quo, which might be the view of their members.

“But it’s time they got into the real world where a majority of anglers want change. Never mind a sample survey, there should be a referendum of all licence holders straightaway, and I’m convinced the majority would favour abolition.”

John Williams

John Williams

“There is not a shred of hard evidence that abolishing the Close Season will harm fish in rivers.

“When the close season was abolished for stillwaters doom-mongers said fishing would suffer, and the same was repeated when it was extended to canals. But they are all full of fish giving pleasure to anglers all year round.

“The same will happen in rivers and angling would be given a real boost by abolition. It is certainly time for a change,” he added.

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