There has been some discussion recently about the right to live-bait in England and Wales, given the potential ban in Scotland that comes before their Assembly for consideration on the 24th of January 2007.
SAA have raised our concerns with the Environment Agency that Scotland's potential move could lead to restrictions in the rest of the UK.
We have discussed this in depth with Adrian Taylor, Fisheries Policy & Process Manager at the Environment Agency, and are pleased to advise that they have given us an unequivocal assurance that they have NO restrictions either planned or considered to restrict the use of live-bait in England and Wales.
Furthermore, to answer the concerns of our predator group members we would like to elaborate on the individual points that have been raised with the EA, with their replies below;
1. "Could the proposed Secondary Legislation that is being used to enable sections of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review, be used to restrict live-baiting?"
"The EA already has the powers to bring in such bans if they were justified, but there are NO plans or thoughts to ban live-baiting. As far as EA head office is aware there are also no plans to look at any other local bans similar to the NW situation. In theory new secondary legislation could be used but the Animal Welfare Bill would have been the logical route for this-see point 3 below."
2. "If Scotland moves to a ban, surely England and Wales will follow?"
"Regarding the potential Scottish ban, geography and game fish heritage create an issue for the whole of Scotland, under the fish conservation ticket. The proposal has been driven by the translocation of unwanted species. The proposed ban is NOT based on taking a moral stance on live-baiting. It does not therefore set a precedent for the UK, and the EA have NO plans OR intention to ban or restrict live-baiting."
3. "Surely a ban is being considered "behind the scenes", it would be a logical extension of the NW ban?"
"If a ban on live-baiting had been sought on fish welfare grounds then the Animal Welfare Bill was the perfect opportunity. However fishing overall, and by definition that includes the use of live-bait, is specifically excluded from the Bill. The Act is now current legislation."
To sum up, the EA have no plans to either extend the existing local ban, or to introduce a national ban on live-baiting. SAA would urge all predator anglers to act in a responsible manner in future and abide by the PAC/SAA Codes of Practice with regard the movement of fish for live-baits. These must not in future be moved without Section 30's, which would ensure the EA do not have any reason to reconsider the matter. Individual anglers who flout the rules will place the right to live-bait at risk for all of us!
Chris Burt, SAA.
The SAA (Specialist Anglers Alliance) has been defending livebaiting for around a decade. Its efforts have played a major part in helping ensure pike anglers may still lawfully use the method.
Membership costs £10 a year - enough bait for a day's fishing, petrol to get there or a round of drinks with your mates on the way home.
Not much to pay to protect the way you fish.
For more information on the SAA click here. You can even sign up to join straight away using Paypal.