Anglers asked for their views on the rivers close season
The Environment Agency is asking anglers to take part in a consultation which will help it to determine whether the existing close season for coarse fishing on rivers should be altered or even scrapped altogether. The consultation period runs until March 11, 2019 and follows analysis of the results of a preliminary survey of 20,000 anglers which was conducted last year.
As part of the consultation, the Environment Agency has published a paper setting out the results of its close season evidence review and options for future regulation. The options comprise retaining the current statutory close season; retaining a close season, but starting on April 15 and ending on June 30; and removing it altogether.
Kevin Austin, Deputy Director of Fisheries at the Environment Agency said: "We want to hear the views of anybody with an interest in coarse fisheries, their preferred way forward and the reasons and evidence to support that. This will help us decide whether there is a case for change. Our priority is to find the right balance between angling and protecting the fish stocks on which angling relies."
Martin Salter from the Angling Trust said: "Whilst the Angling Trust will not take any formal position for or against any changes in the river close season we welcome the detailed examination of the available evidence and strongly believe that the views of all anglers should be taken into account before any decision is made."
He added: "We are pleased that this important issue is now going out to full consultation. It will doubtless arouse some strong feelings on all sides but as an angling community we shouldn’t be frightened to debate, scrutinise and consider the evidence for the laws that affect and govern our sport."
The EA's latest poll, carried out last year, showed that 43 per cent of anglers wanted to retain the close season; 17 per cent wanted to retain a close season but change to start and finish dates; and 33 per cent supported removing it altogether. The remainder were undecided.
The consultation will be managed by the Environment Agency.
The current coarse fishing close season runs from March 15 to June 15 and aims to reduce risks to spawning fish caused by angling. The close season period covers the majority of spawning by most coarse fish species. The close season on most still waters was removed in 1995 and on most canals in 2000.
The results of the preliminary survey of anglers are available online at https://www.anglingtrust.net/page.asp?section=1016§ionTitle=The+River+Close+Season+Debate .