Act rules out returning alien zander to the water

Anglers' hopes that alien zander can be protected by catch and release rules introduced by clubs who own or occupy fisheries containing these predators have been dashed.

Anglers' hopes that alien zander can be protected by catch and release rules introduced by clubs who own or occupy fisheries containing these predators have been dashed.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 under miscellaneous part 14 states: 'If any person releases, or allows to escape, into the wild any animal included in part one of schedule nine he shall be guilty of an offence.'

The non-native zander is last on the list of schedule nine, which suggests it is a criminal offence to catch a zander on rod and line and return alive to the water.

It is understood that no fishery bylaw or club rule can strike out this statute, thus a catch-and-release policy for zander is not a lawful option.


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Each and every one of this species caught by anglers has to be taken away with the least wasteful means of disposal of these tasty fish being the frying pan.

The announcement that river pike up to 65cm in length, grayling between 30 and 36cm and up to 15 small coarse fish of all species, except grayling, up to 20cm can be retained has prompted an immediate response from local angling clubs, who control access to rivers.

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Tony Gibbons, chairman of the Norwich and District Anglers, which leases popular banks for the tidal rivers Bure and Thurne and a short stretch of the Rover Wensum, said: 'We had a policy that did not encourage our members or day ticket holders to take away fish for the pot or for use as bait. It is probable we shall enforce this with a rule next season written in the membership book and on day permits.'

Meanwhile, the laws of nature have ruled on most waters, with lakes, boatyard lagoons and even slow-running rivers glazed over following relentless sub-zero temperatures.

Remarkably, however, the reliable River Wensum in Norwich continued to produce fair catches for match anglers brave enough to face the elements.

Wayne Anderson (Anglers' World) won the riverside open event with 8lb 13oz and, the following day, headed the Earlham Silvers club card with 8lb 14oz from the yacht station, while the top rod in the Duke's Club fishing lower down was Nigel Goose with 9lb 4oz.

Last Tuesday's silver fish open at Barford was won by Stuart Bracey (Dynamite) with just a brace of skimmers totalling 2lb 3oz. On the River Waveney cut, Tony Gibbons was the only veteran to weigh in with 21lb 2oz.

Match prospects this weekend remain doubtful and anglers are advised to call fisheries for up-to-the-minute bulletins.

Meanwhile, fishery owners and angling clubs controlling still waters are advised to break the ice at frequent intervals in order to re-oxygenate the water and prevent fish suffocating.

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