EA seeks extensive bait restrictions on Lake DistrictWaters

The Environment Agency (North West Region) has given notice of itsintention to seek confirmation of amendments to Byelaw 18, whichdeals with the bait that can be used when fishing certain waters andat certain times.

The following extract is of particularconcern to predator anglers:

Section 1

In or on the following named lakes:-

Windermere, Coniston, Wastwater, Ennerdale Water, Crummock Water,Buttermere, Loweswater, Bassenthwaite, Derwentwater, Brotherswater,Ullswater, Red Tarn, Haweswater and Thirlmere;

(a) Use of any dead or alive freshwater fish, salmonids or eels asbait is prohibited ; and (b) possession of any live or deadfreshwater fish, salmonids or eels with the intention of using themas bait is prohibited.

PAC raised a number of objections to these proposals in December2000, during the informal consultation process. The EA has failed toacknowledge our concerns and no attempt has been made to address theobjections raised.

Briefly, these objections are as follows:

* The use of both live and dead fish for bait are established,legal angling methods.

* The use of natural fish baits is highly effective for pike,perch and zander, and is also employed for wels (European catfish),eel, chub and – where permitted – trout.

* It is significant that Section 3 of the same Byelaw proposesthat:

During the period from and including the 15th day of March to andincluding the 15th day of June in any year in rivers, streams andthose parts of rivers canalised for navigation:

(a) fishing will only be allowed with minnow, worm, shrimp, prawnor artificial flies or lures.

* If it is acceptable to use minnows for bait in rivers andstreams,

presumably on the basis that they are indigenous to those riversand streams, and are caught from the venue being fished, then thereis no reason why it should not be acceptable to use those residentspecies which are readily available on the 14 waters listed inSection 1 (a) for bait (either live or dead).

* There appear to be no documented instances of British freshwaterfisheries where the capture and removal of fish for bait has causedsignificant depletion of the fish populations.

* There has never been a single documented case where the use oflive fish baits has resulted in the spread of diseases orparasites.

* There is no evidence to suggest that the introduction of deadfish baits poses any threat in relation to the spread of diseases orparasites. Any such diseases or parasites die with their host, hencethe Environment Agency insists upon live fish for the purpose ofhealth checks.

* Despite this, the proposals in relation to Byelaw 18 imply thatdisease might be transferred through the use of dead freshwater fish,salmonids and eels for bait.

* The use of live bait in non-donor fisheries is regarded by theEnvironment Agency as a transfer of fish, subject to written consentin accordance with Sec. 30 Salmon & Freshwater Fisheries Act1975. The Agency is at liberty to exercise its existing powers indeclining to issue Sec. 30 Consent for the introduction of live fishfor bait in the 14 lakes listed.

* The 14 lakes listed contain rare indigenous species (vendace,arctic char and schelly). In order to ensure the long termconservation of these species, the Environment Agency should considerthe prohibition of the use, or possession of these species forbait.

* An effective Blanket ban on the use of live or dead freshwaterfish, eels and salmonids for bait in the 14 lakes listed, would placesevere and quite unreasonable restrictions on the lawful activitiesof predator anglers, activities which represent no environmentalthreat whatsoever.

* A Blanket ban would be no easier to enforce than the existingByelaw. If this Byelaw is confirmed, the long term implications forpredator angling are extremely serious. It is vital that anglersstand together on this issue and make their objections heard. Youhave until December 3rd to write to:

Department for the Environment,
Fisheries and Rural Affairs Room
308 Nobel House
17 Smith Square

Letters must be copied to:

Mr J Cracken
Regional Director
Environment Agency
Richard Fairclough House
Knutsford Road

Mark Leathwood
General Secretary, Pike Anglers Club of Gt. Britain.