Nearly half of Britain’s anglers want to see an end to the closed season on running waters, Angling Times can reveal.
The results are in following the Environment Agency’s consultation earlier this year, which saw 13,680 people having their say on the future of fishing on running water.
Of those who responded:
49.8 per cent voted to remove the closed season altogether
38.8 per cent voted to keep the closed season as it is
9.2 per cent voted to keep the closed season, but change the dates to April 15-June 30.
2.2 per cent were undecided
Because the survey was a consultation, not a referendum, the EA will now review the comments it received alongside the votes.
However, it has stated that, after such a close result it is ‘even more important’ to consider whether the evidence supports a case to change the current bylaw. These findings will be published in several weeks’ time.
Commenting on the results of the consultation, the Angling Trust’s Head of Policy, Martin Salter, said: “While I would have liked to see an even higher level of engagement, the fact that this is the largest-ever response to an EA consultation shows just how important it is to ensure that anglers’ views are taken on board on this highly contentious subject, which has evoked strong opinions on both sides.
“In the past, changes were made to the closed season without any reference to those affected by the decisions.”
Top river angler Dave Harrell, who wants the closed season abolished, was pleased with the responses to the consultation.
“The closed season was created in 1878, which is the same year that Alexander Graham Bell presented the telephone to Queen Victoria! It’s well overdue an update, and the fact that 59 per cent of people want some sort of change speaks for itself.
“Clubs and fisheries should be allowed to manage their own waters, but as a consequence of the closed season they struggle for revenue for three months of the year.
“I like to think that the EA will follow this through, and I believe that it would be wrong for it to sit on the fence.”
However, One of Britain’s leading specimen anglers, Martin Bowler, has a different view…
“I’m disappointed that so many anglers want to scrap the closed season completely, but I guess the anglers wanting change are always going to be more vociferous in expressing their opinion.
“I spend a huge amount of time on a rivers in the current coarse fishing closed season due to my love of salmon.
“I appreciate it’s a wonderful time to be by flowing water but I watch our coarse species spawn during this period, starting with perch and ending with barbel.
“I might be missing the point here, but isn’t that the reason we have the current closed season? It seems to be perfectly timed to me.
“I do wonder whether the reasons behind the push to change the status quo are motivated by environmental concerns or selfish desires?” he concluded.
Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency, Kevin Austin, said: “We are really grateful to the people who took the time to respond to the consultation.
“We are processing the many comments from the 13,680 responses to understand the evidence around the closed season and to determine whether there is a case to change the current bylaw.”