A COMPLETE review of angling byelaws is being carried out by the Environment Agency.
As we revealed, a major review of the Close Season is well underway… but now the EA are in the process of updating their national and regional angling laws.
The Pike Anglers Club have already been to one meeting and hope to gain special protection for Britain’s favourite but under-threat predator.
An EA spokesman told Angler’s Mail: “We are in the early stages of reviewing our coarse and trout angling byelaws.
“The aim is to consolidate and rationalise as much as possible the large number of angling byelaws in force, to make sure they are necessary to protect fish stocks and fisheries, and their requirements are clear to assist anglers in complying with them.
“We have replaced a range of local byelaws with single national byelaws in the past e.g. specifications of keepnets.
“The EA has powers to make fisheries byelaws. Any new byelaws would be formally advertised, allowing anyone to provide their views. Government takes account of the public response to our proposals and has the final say on what byelaws are confirmed.
“The Angling Trust is aware of this review and we will be talking to them, as well as other angling organisations, as we begin to develop the options.
“The Close Season consultation, the National Angling Strategy and the review of byelaws are scheduled for next year. Their timetables are unrelated to EU exit work,” he concluded.
John Currie, general secretary of the PAC, attended the recent meeting with the EA in East Anglia and hopes to get pike given special status in the review of angling laws.
John explained: “I met with the man who is tasked with sorting this out – Andy Martin from the EA, who will be travelling the country meeting with EA reps to hear their opinions on what should be changed or updated.
“I was very pleased to be invited along to talk about my concerns regarding Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire. It was a very long meeting and some of it was held in confidence.
“I was the only outsider present and I managed to get an invite as we have been working hard for seven years on pike conservation on the Broads.
“What I can report back on is specific to the Broads. I have asked for Pike to be taken off the permitted list of fish that can be used for bait and the list of fish that can be taken away, i.e. for the table.
“The main reason for this is we feel we have proven that pike are in decline on the broads and for numbers to be further decimated is madness.
“I had the backing of local EA in this request and Andy agreed we had enough reason to ask for a bye law to be put into place.
“I also asked for a minimal tackle recommendation to be put into place as a byelaw for the Broads. This would be along the lines of what PAC has recommended for years.
“Andy suggested that a recommended code of practise should be tried first, but once again, we had the facts and figures at hand and Andy agreed we were justified in our request.
“It was pointed out by the EA that the points we made were applicable to pike nationwide and not just the declining pike stocks of the Broads, so it was suggested that a national minimal tackle byelaw would be worthy of debate.
“These requests will be presented to Defra and further debates will follow.
“We also took the opportunity to discuss warm water piking and the deaths we have seen in the broads this summer and other summers because of it.
“Due to the shallow nature of the broads and a huge tourist industry we see a lot of pressure from ill prepared anglers fishing at times in conditions dangerous to pike. This further adds to the many reasons we have a declining pike population.
“The local EA are in full agreement that we must do something to alleviate the pressures caused by warm water piking. If this is a recommendation not to fish at certain temperatures or a full ban on summer piking in the broads will be further discussed at senior level,” John added.
Mark Lloyd, chief executive of the Angling Trust, commented: “I know the EA are carrying out a review of the byelaws but haven’t heard anything about it recently. We will certainly represent anglers in the review when the EA seek views.”
Reaction to the byelaw review
NEWS of the angling laws review has generally been welcomed.
The last one, in 2009, brought in new legislation about the amount of fish Eastern European anglers could take.
John Williams, chairman of Birmingham AA, the country’s biggest angling club, said: “I hadn’t heard about the review and as is often the case with the EA the ordinary angler is often the last to know and be consulted.
“I think it is 15-20 years since there was last a look at all the bye-laws so one is well overdue.”
“The Angling Trust should be involved in representing the views of the angler but I fear that they now receive so much of their money via the EA that they are compromised.
“Personally I believe angling to be the most over-regulated sport in the UK, the only one to be taxed and to me there are too many bye-laws.
“It is ridiculous that the rules can in fact be different for an angler fishing 400 yards away from someone else on the same river.
“Coming on top of clubs and some owners having their own rules it makes everything too complex, so it should all be simplified.
“Clubs should generally be left with the responsibility of looking after their own stretches properly.
“But the most important national byelaw the EA should sort out is getting on with the abolition of the Close Season which would be good for all of us,” John added.
Neville Fickling, author, tackle dealer and top predator hunter, also believes a review to be useful.
But Nev, a regular Angler’s Mail magazine columnist, does think there is a place for different rules in different parts of the country.
Nev explained: “England is a very diverse country and conditions can be very different in say Cornwall to Northumbria.
“The bye laws for pike are currently national but I believe there to be a necessity for special rules to protect the species in places like the Norfolk Broads where they are under pressure from a variety of sources.
“I would support what the PAC are proposing for the area but not sure how much something like a ban on summer pike fishing would be applicable everywhere.”
“Of course the problem with laws is they are no good if they can’t be enforced and the EA are under resourced anyway when it comes to having the staff to check up.
“A code of practise for predator angling would be a good idea. Currently most tackle shops do try to give good advice on the subject for those less clued up about how to go about it but an official code would be useful.
“A decision on the Close Season byelaw is overdue and should be sorted as the top priority – I’m in favour of the status quo or at least a close season with slightly altered dates,” Nev concluded.
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