Any hopes of a review of the current laws on fishing running water have been dashed this week as the Environment Agency revealed it has no plans to review the dates of the closed season.
The announcement comes after a fishing club sparked controversy by telling Angling Times it will be holding an illegal river match in protest against the closed season.
Numerous anglers, fishing clubs and tackle shops have expressed their support for the club’s radical action, as well as showing interest in running similar contests in an attempt to force the EA to rethink the closed season. But the angling community remains divided on the subject, with the EA’s refusal to review its policies coming as music to the ears of traditionalists and those who believe the closed season is vital to protect spawning fish, wildlife and river environments.
One man who is infuriated by the EA’s announcement is John Barefield, owner of the Fine Line tackle shop in Tooting, Greater London, who fully supports the ‘illegal fishing match’ and admits that he is considering running a similar contest on the River Thames.
“I’m not surprised that the EA has come to this decision. When has it ever listened to what anglers want?” said John.
“If I could afford the petrol I’d drive up to the River Severn myself and take part in this contest. If any of those anglers get gear confiscated in the match I’ll give them some tackle out of my shop. They deserve a medal for what they are doing.”
Sitting firmly on the other side of the fence to John is predator fishing legend Gord Burton, who admits to being delighted with the EA’s decision.
“Our river fish need protection and the EA has certainly done the right thing for our sport,” said Gord. “There are enough commercial fisheries out there for anglers that want to fish in the closed season; it’s unethical to put any more pressure on our rivers and their environments.”
When asked whether it may rethink the issue at a later date, a spokesperson for the EA told AT: “We have no plans to review the dates of the closed season. The laws are in place to protect wild fish stocks during their vulnerable spawning period. Any decision to change the law must be based on sound scientific evidence that doing so would not be detrimental to stocks. We must adopt the precautionary principle.”