ZANDER Anglers Club main man Neville Fickling (pictured) has repeated the group's plea for zeds to be classed as a naturalised native species.

Zander Anglers Club founder Neville Fickling stepped forward with his views after Angler’s Mail revealed some anglers were disgusted by how zeds on the Trent And Mersey Canal in Staffordshire were killed.

The predatory species were firstly put into an aerated tank but then just chucked into bags by Canal & River Trust staff.

Neville, who is also secretary of the  Zander Anglers Club, said: “Animal rights legislation is getting tighter every year and it would make sense to deal with any fish to be removed in such a way as to avoid any unnecessary suffering.

“Not humanely dispatching the zander being removed might get the operators in a bit of bother.

“Zander were originally stocked into the Coventry and Oxford Canal system in 1974 and I have no evidence of any further stocking since then into the Midland’s canals.

“They are perfectly capable of moving long distances including through locks.

“The Zander Anglers Club prepared a paper in conjunction with Fish Legal several years ago, which is still being considered by DEFRA, calling for zander to be regarded as naturalised like common carp. Then there will be no legal need to remove them from a fishery.

“The CRT should leave them alone and the significant sums of money wasted on their removal would be better spent elsewhere,” added the Lincolnshire-based tackle shop owner.

Canal controllers explain the position

John Ellis, national fisheries manager of the CRT, responded to the views of the Zander Anglers Club and others.

John explained: “It is quite clear that it is a requirement of our permit from the Environment Agency to stock and transport fish that zander should be removed where discovered – it explicitly says so.

“The CRT has no view on whether they should be naturalised –DEFRA are still looking at this – but I do not think it would change our views on the negative impacts that zander have on boated turbid canal fisheries.

“Legally, zander are not classified as established in canals. In 2015, the CRT applied to the EA to be allowed to keep them in certain Midlands canals.

“This application was unfortunately rejected. It would have allowed us a zander zone whilst focussing on prevention of further spread.

“So in a nutshell our position is a pragmatic – we would prefer a legal zander zone in a few Midland canals with the vast majority of the network free of them.

“Aside from fish rescues associated with engineering works, we have not undertaken zander removal on those canals which we applied to include in the Midlands canal zander zone.

“It must not be forgotten that our angling clubs are important paying customers and to protect this income we and the clubs believe that this work is imperative.

“Annually, only about 2% of the CRT expenditure on non-native invasive species that includes plants is spent on fish work with zander and wels catfish,” concluded John.

EA insist on dead zander

Despite the pressure from the Zander Anglers Club, the Canal & River Trust have revealed the exact law they are working to. It’s under the Environment Agency – and insists that anglers must kill any zander caught on rod and line as well.

An EA permit for the stocking of fish in the Trent and Mersey Canal states: “Species In Water(s) Conditions: Zander.

“This species must be removed from the site covered by this permit. The permit holder must ensure that any fish of this species caught are not returned to this water or these waters listed here.

“The permit holder must ensure that anglers fishing this water are aware of the requirements of this condition.

“The permit holder must retain evidence of any fish of this species that has been removed.

“The permit holder must allow access to EA officers undertaking monitoring, management or control of this species, at all reasonable times.”

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