Sea anglers protest at licence proposals

Angry East Coast sea anglers have been gathering in large numbers to oppose a government plan to introduce a sea fishing rod licence.

Angry East Coast sea anglers have been gathering in large numbers to oppose a government plan to introduce a sea fishing rod licence.

This controversial proposal had been well trailed in the previous 12 months and it has now been confirmed in a Government White Paper heralding a Marine Bill that suggests the new licence revenues from a sea angling permit would go towards fishery management and research as well as funding the building of artificial reefs.

“It is just another tax on anglers and I for one will not pay it,” declared well-nown Gorleston beach ace Paul Tovell. “Our fish stocks have dwindled dramatically due to over-trawling and that industry is governed by European Fishery Ministers.

“I cannot see the benefits of a sea rod licence apart from raising more cash for the government. And as for artificial reefs it seems to me they are a flood defence and anglers should not have to pay for that.”

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He concluded: “Because of heavy industrial fishing, just about all species rod and line anglers fish for are at an all-time low, and since Europe abolished size limits on flat fish species such as flounders in the North Sea they have suffered serious decline because they have been trawled and cut up for crab pot-bait.”

Sheringham's Tony Thomas, a secretary of a number of beach fishing leagues along the East Coast, echoed that view: “A local match at Salthouse last weekend was won with one small codling.

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“A few years back angling tournaments at this time of the year were often won with up to 14lbs of flounders including individual fish over the 1lb mark. Now, what with the cost of bait and travelling with little or no reward for pleasure anglers fishing for pot, there is no way a sea fishing licence would be welcome,” he declared.

The National Federation of Sea Anglers chief David Rowe said it was universally agreed in the sport that catches had suffered a serious down turn all around the United Kingdom.

“Under Magna Carta the people have a right to fish in the sea, but many rods will be hung up for good if they had to buy a sea fishing licence.

“We have repeated this time and again to officials at DEFRA and the Environment Agency and we urge all sea anglers to state their views to the authorities during the consultation period.”

This has already begun and reaction to the licence proposal or comment can be emailed direct to or write to Marine Legislation Division, DEFRA, Area 2E, 3-8 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HH by June 8, 2007.

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