Labour’s Angling Spokesman Martin Salter MP has backed Fisheries Minister Jonathan Shaw in his decision not to proceed with a sea angling rod licence at the present time.

Mr Salter arranged a number of meetings between sea angling organisations and Mr Shaw and has drawn attention in his Commons speeches to the promise in Labour’s “Charter for Angling” to only introduce a sea angling licence alongside other conservation measures aimed at improving coastal fish stocks. 

Recently Mr Shaw announced his intention to create more nursery areas to aid recruitment and further restrictions on inshore netting.  The Marine Bill, due to be published next month will also include measures to establish Marine Conservation Zones.  The National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) has long argued that a sea angling licence should only be acceptable once anglers saw tangible improvements in fish stocks.

Mr Salter said:

“Whilst I remain committed to the principle of a rod licence for all forms of recreational fishing I congratulate Jonathan Shaw on having the good sense to listen to what sea angling organisations have been saying.  Let’s first get in place the conservation measures necessary to stop the over exploitation by the commercial sector and give Britain’s sea anglers a chance of a decent days sport before we ask them to pay to catch fish that might not be there.”

Richard Ferre, Chairman of the National Federation of Sea Anglers, welcomed the announcement, and said:

“For some time now the NFSA has been working hard to honestly represent to Government and the Minister the views of its members on the question of licenses for sea anglers. The minister is to be congratulated for listening to these views of Sea Anglers from up and down the country. Any possible benefits to be gained from an unpopular licensing scheme on a sport already badly hit by declining fish stocks would have been far outweighed by the deterrent effect it would have had on the thousands of families who try sea angling on holiday at our seaside resorts, bringing joy to children and benefit to local businesses in the process. We are particularly pleased that such a decision will not stop the efforts to improve the future of a sport enjoyed by 1 million people in England and Wales each year spending £640 million in the process. Well done Mr Shaw.”