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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Commercial eel fishing could be banned

Commercial eel fishing looks set to be banned in East Anglia, in a bid to conserve the species.

Environment Agency officials wanted to impose a close season on the region's few remaining eel fishermen.

But regional fisheriy officials want to impose a complete ban on taking eels.

Click here for more.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pike fishing loses one of the good guys - a tribute to James Holgate

Predator anglers across the UK are mourning James Holgate, editor of Pike and Predators magazine and a lifelong supporter of the Pike Anglers Club, who has passed away in hospital after suffering a brief illness.

Neville Fickling, fellow author and former PAC committee member who like James also did a stint as editor of Pikelines, said: "We were only in Sweden on a trip three weeks ago and he was his usual self, the cutting wit he's always been.

"He was a genuinely decent man, there's no two ways about it. He never did anyone any harm, but it's the same old story, they're always the ones who die first."

James, who lived in Lancaster, did a three year stint as editor of Pikelines in the mid-1980s.

Neville said he was the natural choice as editor, when the monthly Pike and Predators was launched more than 10 years ago.

Many of today's top names owe their first break to James, who nurtured many would-be angling writers into print.

Steve Ormrod, current editor of Pikelines, said: "It's really knocked me sideways and I'm struggling to come to terms with it.

"James was a great friend and such a gent, he was one of the best and I'll miss him a lot.

"He'd had more than his fair share of illness of late but was a strong-willed chap and just shrugged off his ailments with his usual brand of good humour and faith."

PAC secretary Graham Slater said: "Pike fishing's lost one of the nice guys.

"He did a lot to encourage first time writers, many people's first published piece was down to James."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

PAC opposes Irish size limit review

Britain's leading predator angling club has added its voice to the groundswell of protest against proposals to raise the legal size limit of pike which may be killed for the table in Ireland.

The Central Fisheries Board is considering asking Irish fishery authorities to increase the size of pike which may be killed from 50 to 75cm.

It claims it is under pressure to do so, after complaints from visiting European anglers. But pike anglers using freedom of information laws have found just two Swiss anglers and seven visiting Germans have complained, along with two individual guides, who say their customers want to be allowed to kill larger fish.

Tim Kelly, president of the Pike Anglers Club, said: "As the representative body for the UK's pike anglers, we are voicing our objection to any move to raise the size limit for pike from 50cm to 75cm.

"We are fundamentally opposed to the promotion of taking pike for food as we believe that the pike is a sport fish to be enjoyed by many as opposed to being consumed by the few.

"UK pike anglers make up the majority of the pike fishing tourists travelling to Eire every year and the lost income from increasingly pike unfriendly policies will surely have a far greater impact than allowing a few anglers from the wider continent to kill larger fish."

Landmark conservation bylaws to protect Ireland's pike were agreed in 2006, after a long battle by anglers on both sides of the irish Sea.

To add your voice and oppose any move to see the size limits increase, e-mail the Central Fisheries Board's director of marketing David Byrne at .

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Pike fishing in Ireland - an update

Pike Anglers may be aware from recent coverage in the press that The Pike and Coarse Fish Bye Laws are being enforced in certain waters located in The Republic of Ireland by officers of (in particular) The Shannon Regional Fisheries Board, writes former PAC president Phil Wakeford.

This is likely to be linked to increased pressure from PAC and other pike angling organisations who have been lobbying for action to prevent the excessive and unlawful removal of pike and other coarse fish especially by continental and Eastern European anglers.

Whilst PAC supports wholeheartedly the protection of dwindling pike stocks in the Irish Republic we would like to point out to members and other visiting, conservation minded pike anglers the full extent of the Bye Laws so that they are aware when a potential breach is being committed, either by themselves or others.

. Fishing must be by rod and line only
. A maximum of two rods only to be used
. It is illegal to use live bait
. It is illegal to transfer live roach from one water to another
. The maximum number of coarse fish that can be taken by any angler in one day is 4 and none of these can exceed 25 cm in length
. It is illegal to take more than one pike per angler per day and such pike must not exceed 50 cm in length
. It is illegal for any person to have in their possession more than one whole pike (of less than 50 cm in length) or more than 0.75 kg of pike flesh in total
. It is illegal to have in ones possession more than 12 coarse fish for use as bait. As mentioned above only 4 of these can be caught on the day and the other 8 (maximum) must have been obtained from a authorised retail outlet and proof of purchase/receipt retained for inspection by Fisheries Board officials.

Your attention is drawn to the fact that a number of anglers have been found in breach of these regulation whilst fishing on Lough Derg in recent weeks. A Shannon Regional Fisheries vessel is patrolling the lough on a regular basis and checking for compliance with the Bye Laws. The vessel used to date is a semi-inflatable rib fitted with a high speed 90 HP motor.

Relatively minor breaches of the Bye Laws are attempted to be dealt with by the use of 'on the spot' fines of 90 euro. If the anger concerned will not or cannot pay this fine then the Fisheries Officer is empowered by Irish Law to confiscate/impound the angers tackle/equipment (including boats) pending further investigation. These officers apparently have the same powers as the Garda/Police.

When PAC members are approached they should first ascertain the identity of the Officers involved and enquire as to which of the above Bye Laws it is alleged that they are infringing. Details should be retained for future reference.It is uncertain at the time of writing whether having more than 2 rods in a boat constitutes a breach. Similarly if an angler were pleasure fishing for coarse fish and retained these in a keep net (as practiced by match anglers) whether this constitutes a breach.

There would appear to be a desire by the Fisheries Board to deal with matters via the 'on the spot' fine approach by we feel that if matters were to be dealt with through the courts then a body of hard evidence would be required including the statements of witnesses, photographs, bodies of fish etc. However the threat of reality of confiscation of expensive tackle/equipment would obviously prove very inconvenient and potentially expensive to the angler. It is believed that some foreign nationals using crude/cheap tackle are ready to hand this over as opposed to paying the 90 euro fine.

PAC will monitor these matters with interest and periodically update the blog accordingly.