Steve Partner: Forcing us to kill record fish is simply a scandal

Sometimes you really do wonder what dim and distant past many of the idiots who control angling are living in. The dark ages? Don’t make me laugh. These bozos are that backward they could be Australian. 

Just take the out-dated and barbaric rules that prevent Wayne Little, captor of a blue shark estimated at 222lb 8oz, from claiming a place in the history books as an example. Frankly, they – and the people who uphold them – are an embarrassment to angling. And if you think that’s harsh, decency prevents me from saying what I really think.

As it stands anyone who catches a fish out at sea that exceeds the British record must kill that creature and take it back to shore to be weighed and verified.   That is nothing short of a scandal – a blood-soaked scandal.

How can we as a sport, with conservation such a key part of civilised society, condone the murder of fish that are of exceptional size and age? It just doesn’t add up. Especially when you consider a fish-friendly alternative is available - in Wales of all places.

Whereas the British Record Fish Committee, the umbrella body that co-ordinates all coarse, game and sea records in England, still insists on murder for boat-caught saltwater claims, its Welsh counterpart has a different approach.  

The Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers has embraced change by accepting a formula that allows the captor, accompanied by a witness, to submit an application by simply measuring the fish to ascertain a weight. No, it doesn’t provide the exact accuracy of a pair of scales on sturdy ground, but surely it’s a small price to pay compared to the sight of a lifeless fish hung on the quayside? 

The weight for length scheme works across Europe and the US so why does the BRFC remain so opposed? Why, with such an obvious and humane alternative, does it cling to the past? Why, in short, is it so bloody old fashioned?

There is another point here, too. The BRFC comes under the jurisdiction of the Angling Trust, led by Mark Lloyd. In his period as chairman Mark has risked the ire of the sport by, at times, putting conservation at the top of his agenda. It is then, somewhat ironic that he sits at the head of an organisation that, essentially, condones pointless death. 

In returning that blue shark, and missing his chance at entering the record books, Wayne Little did what I, and thousands of other anglers, would have done. Fortunately most of us put conservation ahead of vanity nowadays. 

Changing the rules to allow these magnificent creatures to live isn’t just common sense, it’s vital for the longevity of our over-fished seas. 

Come on, Angling Trust, join us in 2010. Leave the killing of fish where it belongs – in the Dark Ages.