Angling Times readers are being called to back a campaign to help protect one of the UK’s most sought-after species.
‘Stop the persecution of Zander in British waters’ is a campaign which has been created to try to bring about a change in the law which currently prohibits the species being returned to our waterways once caught.
The online petition, which has already received hundreds of signatures, was created by Buckingham-based angler James Aris.
He not only wants to see the species given more protection, but a radical change in attitude towards these fish.
“Zander have been in England since 1878 and should be more universally accepted,” he told Angling Times.
“An ever-growing number of lure anglers spend a lot of money on all the accoutrements needed to successfully target the species. Despite this, thousands are destroyed in netting or electro-fishing operations each year.
“There are hundreds of venues which have licences to stock the species and miles of unfished canal – those fish could be returned to these areas instead,” he said.
Currently there are grey areas regarding the law about not returning zander to the water from which they are caught.
English law currently allows individuals to return zander when they catch one from a water where the species is ‘already established’, but doesn’t allow netting operators on man-made venues like canals to do the same.
The Canal & River Trust oversees dozens of such operations on its waterways each year.
However, the charity says its hands are tied when it comes to keeping anglers happy while remaining within the law.
A CRT spokesperson said: “We have not been granted permission to keep zander on canals and so we believe that we could inadvertently be breaking the law if we told an angler that it was okay to return a non-native fish species to the cut.
“In our day-to-day fisheries work, when we encounter a non-native species we are bound by the Keeping and Introduction of Fish (KIPF) Regulations not to return the fish in question to the water. We can only restock fish we find if the new venue has a licence to stock the species.”
It is this law which a growing number of predator anglers like James Aris wants to see changed.
Recently a Facebook page called ‘Save the Zander’ appeared online and some of the sport’s top names have also voiced their concerns, including Zander Anglers’ Club member Dilip Sarkar.
He told Angling Times “Zander are here, fact. They do not decimate fish populations as was once feared.
Over time, they have become an accepted part of the aquatic environment they now live in.
“In waters where they are established, nature has balanced itself out. Take the Severn, for example… the river is in fine fettle, full of fish, and produces pike to 30lb and zander to 20lb-plus.
“Were there not sufficient food, that would not be the case.
“The canals where culling is ongoing are actually full of silvefish, so there really isn’t a problem.
“Even if there were, it would be physically and practically impossible to eradicate zander, whether or not they remain on the invasive species list.”
THE LAW ASIT STANDS
When asked by Angling Times what the law is regarding zander, an Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The keeping or releasing of zander in your fishery (unless it’s a totally enclosed stillwater) is an offence under the Import of Live Fish Act unless the Fishery concerned has an official licence to hold the species.
“If an angler catches a zander from a water where they are already established they can decide whether to return it or, making sure they have the fishery owner’s permission, to take it.”
To sign the petition visit: www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/167921 or look for ‘save the Zander’ on Facebook.