Six years after the publication of the Warren Report which produced a comprehensive review of Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries legislation the Government announced that it intended to enact the bulk of the recommendations and would be taking action to tighten up the law relating to fish thefts.


The announcement was made in response to a Parliamentary Question by Reading West MP, Martin Salter, Labour’s Parliamentary Spokesman for Angling.


In his question Mr Salter said:


Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab): What progress he has made in bringing forward a new fisheries Bill following the review of salmon and freshwater fisheries in 2000. [109016]


The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): We have today completed a review of salmon and freshwater fisheries policy, and I can announce to the House that we intend to meet the objectives my hon. Friend and I share through secondary legislation as quickly as possible.


Martin Salter: Britain’s 3.5 million anglers will welcome the news that the outcome of the salmon and freshwater fisheries review will be enacted by the Government, as promised in our charter for angling several years ago. However, will the measures set out by the Minister enable tougher action to be taken against fish thefts, which are carried out either for the illegal stocking of fisheries or, more recently, by eastern European workers, who simply fish for the pot? Will he increase the present derisory penalties and tidy up the ambiguous and ineffective byelaws?


Mr. Bradshaw: I agree with my hon. Friend and pay tribute to the tireless work that he does on behalf of the United Kingdom’s 3.5 million anglers. We do think we will be able to address the concerns that I share with him about the current level of fines for fish theft, and the whole range of concerns that were raised by the independent review back in 2000.


Later on Thursday Mr Salter took part in the House of Commons annual debate on fisheries in order to lay out in more detail what he and Britain’s anglers were expecting from a new Fisheries Bill and again in response Mr Salter received assurances from Ben Bradshaw that all the issues raised would be addressed through secondary legislation that the government plans to bring forward over the coming months.


Mr Salter also pressed the Government to act on the recently published Blueprint for Water, which was compiled by an unprecedented coalition of environmental and angling organisations representing more than six million people. The Blueprint urges the Government to slash the amount of water wasted in homes and businesses asks for an increase in fines for water pollution and calls for the creation of a fund to help urban and rural communities restore river catchments.


Speaking afterwards Martin Salter said:


“Although we as anglers have had to show great patience in our six year wait for new fisheries legislation it would be churlish not to welcome this highly significant announcement by Ben Bradshaw. Action to tackle fish thefts is highly necessary and the current derisory Theft Act penalties of a £200 fine needs to be massively increased. We also need the current incoherent jumble of byelaws to be sorted out. Fish thefts are just one issue threatening our fisheries and I’m delighted that there is going to be further action on the control of eel stocks, migratory fish passes, the reduction of exploitation of salmon and sea trout to safe levels, and the control of fish movements.”


Mr Salter added:


“All in all, Thursday 14th December will go down as a good day for angling.”