Government abandons sea angling licences


The government today
abandoned its current plans to impose fishing licences on a million sea
anglers in Britain.

The move follows several years of campaigning by the National
Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) to convince successive fisheries
ministers that because fishstocks were so seriously depleted by
commercial overfishing, the few fish left for anglers were not worth
buying licence to catch.

A provision enabling
licences to be imposed has been withdrawn from the government’s big new
Marine Bill due to be published shortly. The news came in a written
parliamentary answer to Martin Salter (Labour, Reading West) from the
fisheries minister, Jonathan Shaw.

A survey of
NFSA members showed that only eight per cent supported the idea.

The case was argued by the NFSA in its responses to
government consultations, face-to-face with civil servants and last
month directly with the minister at a “meet the anglers” session in
Penzance, and at a meeting in Westminster.

Richard Ferré, chairman of the NFSA, said today: “The NFSA and
anglers throughout the country have worked hard to honestly represent
to the Minister their view that a licence would have been unfair,
financially unviable and detrimental to the sport.

“The minister and his civil servants are to be congratulated for
listening to and analysing our arguments and now for taking this

Mr. Salter who is the Labour
spokesman for angling, said that he remained committed to the principle
of a rod licence for all forms of recreational fishing but added:
“Let’s first get in place the conservation measures necessary to stop
the over exploitation by the commercial sector and give Britain’s sea
anglers a chance of a decent days sport before we ask them to pay to
catch fish that might not be there.”

Mr. Ferré
said he believed it would herald much needed improved relations between
the government and the million-strong recreational sea angling industry
which was worth nearly £600 million a year in England and Wales alone
and supported 19,000 jobs.

“Our aim is to expand
the sport and sustain the thousands of businesses dependant on

“Many of those businesses would have been
badly hurt by an unpopular licence scheme deterring thousands of
families who go sea angling on holiday every year often introducing
their children to a fascinating, close to nature, outdoor

Anglers were particularly pleased
that the minister has clearly indicated his intention to continue with
the action programme they have been lobbying for to improve sea angling
which has been seriously affected by declining fishstocks.

“High on our priority list is the need for new minimum
landing sizes to stop commercial fishermen and anglers alike taking
fish before they have even spawned once and much improved netting
restrictions around our shores.”