A senior Environment Agency policy chief has gone on record to state the agency will not be seeking either a blanket ban – like that proposed in Scotland – or further regional by-laws, such as the Cumbrian coarse bait ban.

PAC president Phil Wakeford said: “We are extremely pleased, however it will never go away completely. The eyes of the public and the authorities are now upon anglers and pike anglers in particular.

“We urge all predator anglers to stay within the law and follow our code of conduct.”

Senior officials in the Environment Agency were lobbied on behalf of the PAC and other predator groups by the Specialist Anglers Alliance.

The SAA put our concerns to Adrian Taylor, the EA’s fisheries policy manager.

SAA vice-president Chris Burt said: “We have discussed this in depth with Adrian Taylor and are pleased to advise that they have given us an unequivocal assurance that they have no restrictions being planned or considered to restrict the use of live-bait in England and Wales.

“Furthermore, to answer the concerns of our predator group members we would like to elaborate on the individual points that have been raised with the EA.”

The PAC’s biggest fear was that the proposed Secondary Legislation that being used to make sections of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Review law could be used to ban livebaiting by the back door.

At the meeting with the SAA, Mr Taylor said: “The EA already has the powers to bring in such bans if they were justified, but there are no plans or thoughts to ban live-baiting.

“As far as the EA head office is aware there are also no plans to look at any other local bans similar to the North-west situation. In theory new secondary legislation could be used but the Animal Welfare Bill would have been the logical route for this.”

Many feared the blanket ban which looks almost certain to be imposed by the Scottish Parliament makes a similar ban inevitable in the remainder of the UK.

But Mr Taylor told the SAA: “Regarding the potential Scottish ban, geography and game fish heritage create an issue for the whole of Scotland, under the fish conservation ticket. The proposal has been driven by the translocation of unwanted species.

“The proposed ban is not based on taking a moral stance on live-baiting. It does not therefore set a precedent for the UK and the EA has no plans or intention to ban or restrict livebaiting.”

Chris Burt said: “To sum up, the EA have no plans to either extend the existing local ban, or to introduce a national ban on live-baiting.

“The SAA would urge all predator anglers to act in a responsible manner in future and abide by the PAC/SAA Codes of Practice with regard the movement of fish for bait.”

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