Is it time to have our licences checked before we start fishing?

Angling is certainly not immune to the swingeing cuts being imposed by this Government.

Indeed, ‘grant-in-aid’ – the sum that ‘the nation’ invests in fishery work – has reduced in direct correlation to the sport’s contribution – the rod licence tax.

The Big Society seems to be understood by most as a means of getting people to do something for free that previously we have paid for and ‘fishery enforcement officers’ – previously known as bailiffs – are not immune. This means a complete 180 degree turn by the authorities, who would not let club bailiffs act as voluntary enforcement officers because of our two good friends ‘health and safety’. Our rights as licence holders to check other anglers’ documents has been removed for the same reason.

The Big Society obviously cancels that out – and so it should. I find it offensive when I see my friendly bailiff – which they always are to me – in a bloody stab vest! Any idea when the last bailiff was stabbed?

It’s not been in Angling Times for a while that’s for sure. And in case you are wondering, my licence was checked for the second time this season. I have never seen a club bailiff, nor a commercial fishery owner or manager in a stab vest and surely they do the same job.

It would be a great idea to allow volunteers to become bailiffs but
(that’s a big BUT) those currently employed doing that side of their work should be redeployed on proper fishery management – things like finding out where the River Colne disappears to as the levels continue to drop!

Of course what makes most sense is to make it an official requirement for everyone giving permission to fish – match organisers, club secretaries and anyone selling a day ticket – to check that the person applying has a valid rod licence before they start. That’s something I have been proposing for donkey’s years and I have absolutely no doubt that one day it will become fact. What I can’t understand is why not now!