SATURDAYS see the good people at The Angling Trust, the single organisation to represent all game, coarse and sea anglers and angling in this country, take over our blog. 

Angling Trust chief executive, Mark Lloyd brings you this week’s blog.

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The Angling Trust – the sport’s governing body – are anglers themselves and keen to share their news and views here on the Angler’s Mail website.



‘We have no right to our rivers while Richard Benyon’s interests are served’


I READ the above article with dismay.

Richard Benyon

In it George Mobiot extends his vendetta against Richard Benyon, one of the few fisheries ministers who actually understands fishing, to an attack on the rights of millions of anglers and the organisation that exists to defend them.

He trots out the same illogical and utterly false argument that the British Canoe Union (BCU) has recently adopted: that the law stopping people canoeing wherever and whenever they like needs to be changed, while denying that any such law exists. Both the BCU and Monbiot are causing confusion among the paddling public by promoting the work of one MSc student who wrote a thesis along these lines some years ago. Like many student theses, it has no foundation in truth or reality.

The law has been repeatedly confirmed by the courts and is absolutely clear: there is no universal right for people to canoe on non-tidal waters. Canoeists have no more of a right to use rivers as they please than anyone does to camp in Mr Monbiot’s garden without his permission. There are also fishing rights held separately from the land, often by fishing clubs who are anything but wealthy landowners with a “hegemonic grip on the countryside”, but working men and women who pay a subscription to fish in peace.

Canoeists’ access is a big issue being tackled by the Trust right now.

Public rights of navigation do exist in some places but they are the exception. Everywhere else canoeing is only allowed with the permission of the people who hold property and fishing rights. This has been confirmed by both the English and Welsh governments, who support voluntary access agreements, as we do. Monbiot claims that the BCU has been thwarted in trying to reach such agreements by landowners. This is utterly false; the truth is that the BCU has repeatedly ordered its officers not to sign agreements drafted locally with angling clubs and landowners unless they are for unrestricted access. In Canada, a free-for-all works fine, but we live on a crowded island where restrictions are necessary. Anglers buy licences, pay permits and respect close seasons for this reason.

Monbiot goes on to claim that the Angling Trust does not have strong democratic instincts or a love of wildlife. Our position on canoeing is entirely supported by our membership and anglers have done far more than any other group to fight pollution and restore water habitats. The Angling Trust and Fish Legal devote most of our time and resources to lobbying, campaigning and taking legal action to protect the water environment, for the benefit of fish and other aquatic wildlife.


Mark Lloyd

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