Fishing star John Wilson slams Natural England

Our sport needs Natural England like a hole in the head. That’s the conclusion from John Wilson following the news last week that the Government body’s planned policies for freshwater fisheries could spell bad news for anglers and venue owners.

It has been suggested that NE wants to limit fish stockings, ban livebaiting and have more say on how fisheries are managed ¬ revelations that have incensed fishing’s best-known personality, who believes it is high time the body stopped meddling in angling matters.

“Who do Natural England think has been responsible for running freshwater fisheries and turning thousands of gravel pit workings into nature-rich environments over the past 40 years?” said John.

“It was anglers. Be they hard-working club members, private owners or fishery managers. Collectively we have been responsible for creating picturesque water playgrounds to be enjoyed by all, as well as being havens for wildlife.

“Why should we listen to a single thing that Natural England says? What we need is a Government department whose only job is to run angling. Run by people without splinters sticking out of the bums from spending so much time sitting on the fence; people who believe in what they’re doing for the benefit of angling,” he insisted.

John and the wider angling community are sure to be further angered by fresh revelations this week that NE is leading a drive to see common carp redefined as a ‘high risk’ alien species.

According to the body, carp ¬ the species that has been the main driver of recreational angling for the past three decades - are as damaging to the natural environment as top mouth gudgeon, floating pennywort and signal crayfish.

Angling Trades Association chief executive and independent fisheries expert Dr Bruno Broughton reacted with dismay at the news.

“The inclusion of carp on the list of high impact, alien species is perverse and will cause widespread concern among anglers, their organisations and the tackle trade,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the obvious and highly significant socio-economic consequences, carp appear to have again been used as a convenient scapegoat for the ills besetting British fisheries. Any thorough, objective examination would reveal that there are thousands of fisheries in the UK where carp exist without causing any discernible, adverse impacts on other aquatic flora and fauna.”