Anglers face new fines for catching freshwater fish

The Environment Agency is asking anglers to comment on its proposal to introduce new byelaws under which anglers will reportedly face fines of up to £5,000 if they catch and remove freshwater fish including pike or carp to take home for the table. The new byelaws do not affect trout and salmon.

Adrian Taylor, Fisheries Manager at the Environment Agency, said: "Pike and grayling have historically been taken for the pot. We don't want to stop this, nor do we want to stop predator anglers catching and using bait fish. However, we do want to prevent specimen coarse fish from being taken, to protect the valuable fisheries they support, whilst giving stillwater fisheries the option to allow fish to be taken. We also need to protect threatened stocks of eel and shad. We hope these byelaws achieve the right balance.

"We need to work with the angling community to make the most of these new powers. We will guide fishery owners and clubs to provide us with prompt, accurate information on where and when people are taking fish illegally to help focus our enforcement. We also want anglers to spread the word among their peers that mandatory catch and release is now the norm."

Under the new byelaws it is proposed that anglers will only be allowed to take 15 small fish, less than 7.8in (20cm) from its Shedule 1 list which includes perch, common and crucian carp, bream and other silver fish, and for anglers to be allowed to take home one small pike less than 26in (about 5lbs) or two grayling between 12in to 15in.

However, in future it will be against the law to take an eel or shad from any river or lake and there will be a ban on removing any coarse fish species from still waters unless the fishery owner has given written permission.

The Angling Trust, which represents the country's 1.5 million anglers, is said to be delighted by the news. Mark Lloyd, a spokesman for the Trust, is reported to have said: "We have been pressing for a tougher action for years. I think the practice will be that most fisheries will stop people taking all fish. When large numbers are removed from a fishery it really has an impact on someone's enjoyment."

Anyone wishing to see the byelaws can obtain a copy from the Environment Agency website, from any Environment Agency office or by phoning 0870 506 506. Objections or letters of support must be sent to Defra or the Welsh Assembly Government by 20 January 2010. After responding to any objections, the Environment Agency will formally apply to the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers for confirmation. The Environment Agency plans to introduce the new byelaws in early 2010.

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