Government plans to improve freshwater fishing and tackle fish theft in England and Wales need funds as well as new laws, according to the Countryside Alliance.

Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw today announced that the Government intends to use secondary legislation under the Regulatory Reform Act, the Water Framework Directive and other recent European measures to improve freshwater fishing across England and Wales.

Alliance Campaigns Director Rob Gray said: “New laws are welcome, but the Environment Agency does not have the resources to deliver existing legislation.

“Defra has cut the Environment Agency fisheries management grant from £6.3 million to £5.9 million in 2006/7. The Minister says he wants to boost stocks of salmon, but he cut  £250,000 from the EA’s Salmonid Improvement Project. He says he wants to prevent the introduction of alien fish species, but he cut £150,000 from fish movement enforcement.

“We support Defra’s aspiration to improve fisheries, but we believe that new laws can’t make up for funding cuts. It is time the Government as a whole faced up to the appalling unfairness of rural issues paying the cost for the disastrous mismanagement of the Rural Payments Agency”.