Council to offer free fishing at eight parks in Liverpool

A registration scheme allowing anglers to fish eight of Liverpool’s park lakes for free is being heralded as a model example of how local authorities should manage their fishing.

With angling on council-run waters under threat nationwide, and access to fisheries like Doncaster’s Cusworth Hall at risk of being lost forever, the efforts of Liverpool Council to work with anglers and the Environment Agency to improve angling opportunities on its park lakes has been hailed as a breath of fresh air.

With so many different user groups looking to take advantage of local assets like parks and other public spaces there is always a risk of conflict, but Liverpool City Council identified ‘inclusion, support and dialogue’ as the key means of getting all the groups working with the authority.

And dialogue with the EA and anglers proved essential in helping the council learn everything it needed to know about managing its waters effectively and preventing them from falling into disrepair.

“We could see a lot of anglers fishing, but we had no dialogue with them,” said Liverpool parks estate manager Derek Dottie.

“The registration scheme was simply a way for us to support anglers as a user group by listening to them and demonstrating that we were willing to manage the fishing - something we’ve done by working more closely with the Environment Agency in order to become better fisheries managers.

“Since we took a closer look at our parks strategy and had an overhaul, we’ve gained a real appreciation of how important it is to manage our waters and just how much anglers and the EA can teach us about fisheries and angling,” he added.

With over 2,700 anglers signed up and sizeable investments being made in balancing fish stocks and improving disabled access, many in the sport believe the council has got a far better understanding than most local authorities of how to make the most of its fisheries’ assets on behalf of local anglers.

And they’re appealing to more anglers to sign up for the free fishing on offer and tell them what they think.

“We’ve not got it cracked yet, but in Liverpool we really value our diversity and I don’t believe any other local authority in the North West works as hard as we do to create user groups and encourage dialogue,” added Derek.

The EA is impressed by the positive relationship that has emerged, especially as the scheme ticks all its boxes in terms of providing accessible urban angling opportunities to anglers of all abilities and backgrounds.

“The Liverpool Park Lakes Angling Scheme lays out rules and regulations for the local angling community to follow and is a great example of how partners can work together in order to ensure fisheries, best practice,” said EA fisheries technical officer Trevor Oldfield.