Nearly 14,000 people have responded to the Environment Agency’s questionnaire on the future of the closed season, Angling Times can reveal.
The deadline for responses was March 15, with more than 13,600 people recording their opinions. These will be considered alongside those of the 5,147 who responded to an email survey back in May 2018.
The results are now being collated, and will be used to determine whether there is a case for changing the current closed season by-laws.
A spokesperson from angling’s governing body the Angling Trust said: “Any proposed change to the current by-law (whether to change the dates or remove the closed season) must be advertised, to give everyone the opportunity to object or support the proposal.
“We will respond to these objections, before applying to the Government for confirmation.
“The final decision ultimately rests with the Government.”
Any change in by-laws will not affect the 2019 closed season, when ‘Operation Clampdown’ patrols will take place for the seventh year.
During this campaign, Environment Agency officers will be supported by Angling Trust Volunteer Bailiffs in patrols of our waterways to enforce the closed season.
Last year this operation uncovered more than 250 instances of illegal fishing or unlicensed offenders being reported over the course of 927 patrols.
Kevin Austin, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, said: “Our job is to protect fish stocks and improve fisheries. The majority of anglers, who fish legally, rightly demand that we take action to catch offenders.
“During the closed season our fisheries enforcement officers, supported by Angling Trust volunteer bailiffs, will be targeting illegal fishing.
“We take illegal fishing very seriously. Anyone fishing illegally can expect to be prosecuted and face a substantial fine.
“We urge anyone to report illegal fishing as quickly as possible by calling our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”