Open letter from Chris Burt of the Specialist Anglers Alliance

“It is with considerable regret that we have to confirm that the huge, concerted efforts from SAA, PAC and the other predator groups in fighting to retain the right to livebait in certain waters in the North West Region of the Environment Agency, have failed completely.
To lose the right to livebait on these waters is bad enough, but freshwater deadbaits are now banned there too. We believed (wrongly) that they were only included in the proposed ban to give the local EA something to give to us as a concession, by conceding the ban on dead-baits but keeping the livebait ban. Not so, both have gone.
Puzzlingly, the NW Region say too in their announcement that “the proposed ban on the use of live and dead bait was supported scientifically”, yet there is NO evidence (scientific or otherwise) that diseases’ can be transferred by deadbaits. The Environment Agency’s own head office in Bristol again confirmed this when this new byelaw was first tabled. So the only reason it is there is to make it very easy for the EA bailiffs to convict anyone.

Given the problems we face on our waters of abstraction, pollution, drought, endocrine disruptors, etc, etc, we find it surprising that the North West EA should give this matter such a high priority. It is regrettable too that the angling representatives on the local angling consultative body, RFERAC, should not have given more support to predator anglers. We cannot but feel that the non-predator anglers who sit in positions of authority in NW Region have happily sacrificed a branch of the sport they don’t personally practice. The lesson from this is that specialist anglers across the country must redouble their efforts to seek representation on RFERAC committees.

Having secured the new byelaw, in spite of the massive opposition voiced to these proposals and there being NO evidence to support their claims to ban freshwater deadbaits, the local EA have already sought to secure their first conviction under the new law. We received notification of the passing of the byelaw early on Monday the 29th of July, yet a group of NW bailiffs’ were booking their first angler six hours prior to this, in the small hours of the morning! How anglers were supposed to know of the new law we fail to understand, yet the NW Region still sought to book the angler concerned.

We deplore the banning of livebaits as the first step to ban fishing, although we do note the NW EA Press Release does assure us that they “stress that the Government has no plans to ban angling”. How long before such plans are tabled and which branch of angling will next be under attack, we wonder?”