The nation’s four million anglers have been slammed this week after it emerged that just 87 individuals have so far responded to an online consultation document which will help shape new byelaws affecting the removal of coarse fish.
Described as ‘the most important rule change to affect coarse fishing in decades’, the consultation was posted on the internet by the Environment Agency in readiness for the passing of a new Marine Bill this autumn.
Changes include limiting the number of coarse fish which can be taken from rivers, and raising the maximum fine for offenders from £2,500 to a staggering £50,000. It would also become illegal to remove any rod-caught eels, given the current critical state of stocks of the species.
Rules preventing anglers from taking more than a set number of coarse fish already exist, but these are currently only regional in remit. The aim is to create national regulations, but this can only happen if enough anglers respond to the consultation.
Angling Trust board member Mike Heylin is disappointed by the lack of response to the consultation document, and thinks attitudes need to change if progress is to be made.
“Many anglers are just too apathetic and don’t seem to want to get involved. They will voice xenophobic anti-Eastern European views on the internet, but won’t bother to fill out a form. It’s incredibly depressing, and I just hope enough people care to take the trouble to complete the form,” said Mike.
Angling Times editor Richard Lee is also urging all anglers to get involved and help shape the future of the sport by safeguarding precious fish stocks from poachers.
“Sightings of illegal fishermen using several rods, along with photos of dead fish in gill nets and on the end of long lines are reported to Angling Times every week.
“Filling out this document is vital if we are to stop the rot before it’s too late – it literally takes a minute and will let authorities know just how passionate we anglers are about the subject,” said Richard.
To find and fill in the document, click HERE.