Radical proposals that could drastically change the way in which rod licence funds are spent and our waterways are policed have been delivered to the Government this week.
The Angling Trust set out its vision for fishing’s future - and the move could see responsibility for bailiffing of our banks taken out of the hands of the Environment Agency and handed to volunteers.
The proposals, that follow mounting discontent about how the Agency is run, come in the same week that Government announced the EA is to be ‘reformed through structural, process and cultural change to become a more efficient and customer-focused organisation’.
The Trust’s hope now is to instigate an unprecedented shake-up of the management of angling in the UK.
And this could include handing responsibility for work on waterways to local groups and associations, and the policing of our banks to be carried out by a nationwide volunteer bailiff force managed by the Trust itself.
The paper was drawn up in association with other angling and environmental groups, in an attempt to achieve a better and more cost-effective use of rod licence fees at a time when the Government is looking to make cuts in the public sector.
“The EA is too full of bureaucracy and big salaries to offer anglers real value for money,” said chief executive of the Angling Trust, Mark Lloyd.
“Our proposals are designed to take responsibility away from the EA and into the hands of people like anglers who have a real vested interest in doing the best for our fisheries and not wasting the money available.
“An example of this is getting river trusts to do work on fisheries that would normally fall to the EA. Cost comparisons have shown the EA spends up to seven times the amount on projects compared to river trusts, so in that respect it makes sense to take the work away from the EA.
“Our plans for a volunteer bailiff force would see individuals across the country working as the eyes and ears of the EA,” Mark said.
“The volunteers would be like special constables with the power to check licences and report crimes, which could then lead to convictions.”
John Williams, secretary of Birmingham Angling Association which owns the rights to more river fishing than any other club in the country, spoke to Angling Times about the proposal.
“The bailiff proposal is a non-starter,” said John. “Under current legislation, volunteer bailiffs would not legally be able to ask anglers for their rod licence. That requires sworn-in professional bailiffs.
“And, in my opinion, the Angling Trust needs to show it can run its own affairs properly before it’s given control over an official bailiffing force.
The EA commented on the plans saying: “We have received the proposal, and are talking it through with the Angling Trust.”