Friday, June 26, 2009

Pike baits exempt from new ban on taking river fish

Killing coarse fish caught from Britain's rivers could soon become illegal.

But exemptions look set to be put in place to ensure pike anglers can continue using limited numbers below a certain size for bait.

Environment Agency officials will next week launch a major public consultation exercise over proposed byelaw changes.

Anglers and other interested parties have until September 14 to make their views known.

"Within the angling community there is a wide range of opinion about whether anglers should be allowed to take the coarse fish they catch," an EA source said.

"There has been mounting concern that coarse fish removal by rod and line is damaging stocks and fisheries.

"We know that some coarse fish are taken to eat and there is evidence that specimen fish are taken for illegal stocking in other waters."

While there have been calls for a ban on the use of coarse baits - frequently following allegations fish are being taken wholesale to supply the bait trade - the EA is on record stating it does not take the claims seriously.

A section of the report accompanying the consultation paper has this to say on the issue of using coarse fish for bait:

"Anglers fishing for pike and other predators have traditionally used small fish
for live or dead bait. It is a legitimate and effective method of fishing and
there is a strong argument that is should be allowed to continue. There is an
equally strong case that the number and size of fish taken for bait should be
limited so it does not damage fisheries. Note that we are not considering the
ethics of live-baiting in this consultation."

PAC president Tim Kelly said: "Everyone wants the problem of fish theft dealt with. On the face of it they're going about it in a reasonable way by acknowleging the ownership of fish stocks and making an obvious exemption for using fish for live and dead bait.

"I see it as an opportunity for us to go in there and state our case. It's also an opportunity to move forward and look at making certified fish available for use as bait, like triploid trout."

EA fisheries policy manager Adrian Taylor added: “We have some existing local byelaws that limit the removal of coarse fish, but these are inconsistent. We are proposing to introduce new byelaws that will apply across England and Wales to limit fish removal, protecting coarse fish and the fisheries they support.

"With a change to our byelaw-making powers expected in the autumn, we are consulting with the angling world now, so we can introduce the new measures as soon as possible in 2010.
“In developing our proposals, we need to balance the need to protect fish stocks with the rights of fisheries owners and managers to decide how their fisheries should be managed. In particular, we need to consider the differences between river and stillwater fisheries.

“We need the views of the angling community to help us strike the right balance.“


Click here to read the report on proposed byelaw changes. It includes a section you can print off and post to the EA.

From Monday, June 29, you will be able to take part in the consultation online. Click here for a link to the page where you can do that.


If you've received this via e-mail, please forward it on to any other pike anglers you're in touch with, to give them the opportunity to respond.