Recreational anglers today (Monday) urged the fisheries minister, Jonathan Shaw, to reconsider his controversial plans to make them buy licenses to fish in the sea.

The minister met a delegation led by Richard Ferré, chairman of the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA), and David Rowe, its chief executive, at Penzance pier during a visit to the fishing industry in the region.

The meeting was arranged by the NFSA at the minister’s request and included  charter boat skippers who take anglers to sea, owners of fishing tackle businesses and anglers who fish from the shore or from their from own boats.

The fishing tackle and charter business owners told the minister that much of their trade came from holidaymakers.  If they had to buy a license to go fishing for a day their trade would be lost.

Mr. Shaw also watched an NFSA coach giving practical instruction on the pier to a group of young anglers.

Mr. Ferré explained to the minister that there was little support for a license because years of carefree commercial overfishing permitted by the present and previous governments had so damaged fishstocks that anglers seldom caught specimens anymore and any fish they did catch were often too small to take home.   

He urged the minister to legislate to protect the run down fishstocks so they would regenerate and recover to the point where they would benefit both sea angling and commercial fishing.

The proposal for a sea angling rod license is expected to be included in government’s draft Marine Bill next month.  The NFSA believes that such a scheme would not generate enough cash to allow any to be reinvested in developing sea angling.

Mr. Ferré thanked the minister for spending more than an hour listening to and discussing, the problems of sea angling.  The NFSA , he said, looked forward to continuing to work with him and his officials to solve the problems of both licensing and the devastated fishstocks in coastal waters.