A trial which has opened an area of privately owned Horsey Mere for pike fishing is being jeopardised by anglers who have been caught fishing illegally without permits and outside the agreed area.
The Broads Authority is taking the breach of the permit system very seriously and the offences are currently being investigated pending prosecution.
The fishing around the River Thurne is treasured by pike anglers nationally. However Horsey Mere is a legally protected wildlife haven for migrating birds who visit to seek a safe refuge in their thousands. Just one boat can disturb them and if this happens too often they can loose condition, affecting breeding success.
Angling on Horsey Mere is closed from November 1st to the end of February to give migrating birds winter security, although angling at Horsey Staithe is permitted. This is respected by the majority of anglers and other navigators who are grateful to be allowed to fish there from June 16th until October 31st and from March 1st to the closure of the fishing season on March 14th.
However, some anglers have been poaching, and badly disturbing birds, with some abusing the owner, John Buxton, and his warden.
In striving for an outcome that satisfied the needs of the wintering birds and allowed angling opportunities, in 2006 the Horsey Estate, Natural England, Broads Authority, National Trust and representatives of the Broads Angling Strategy Group put a trial angling permit system together. This permits two anglers in one boat to fish in the southern part of the mere for a day. Permits are available seven days a week. The arrangement will be reviewed after every season.
David Batten from the Broads Angling Strategy Group said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that a few selfish anglers are giving all pike anglers a bad name by continually breaking the rules. There is no current need to poach. Anybody can book a ticket and go and fish for £15 which is an incredibly reasonable price for two people to fish on a piece of water of this nature. The permit allows people to enjoy pike fishing without disturbing the wildlife and this could be withdrawn without the co-operation of the pike angling community. I hope all reasonable anglers will support the Broads Authority on taking appropriate action to deal with those who continue to jeopardise this opportunity.’
Andrea Kelly, Broads Authority’s Head of Conservation, said: ‘It is important that anglers who wish to enjoy this opportunity observe the guidelines. This is a continuing trial which is subject to satisfactory appraisal. All organisations want to see anglers enjoy Horsey as a valuable natural pike fishing location. However we have a duty to protect wildlife and we will be looking to work closely with the angling community to get the balance right’.
For more information on the guidelines for fishing on Horsey and application forms for permits are available on www.thurnefisheries.co.uk.