SEA anglers should be aware of a Government proposal to impose a £22 annual licence on them for pursuing their sport. The proposal is rightly based on concern for conservation, but the Countryside Alliance seeks reassurance on a number of issues.

The projected £3m annual revenue that would be generated by this licence fee would probably not even pay for enforcement around the UK’s 3,100 mile coastline, far less offer any tangible conservation benefits. Indeed, who would enforce this licence: at present the jurisdiction of the Environment Agency, which enforces inland rod licences, stops at the estuary.

Other concerns include defining exactly who would be licenced (trawler men, mackerel-spinning children, line-caught bass fishers?) and what the proposed “conservation measures” are. Existing measures from conservation groups like the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society and the National Federation of Sea Anglers should be enhanced rather than cut across.

This licencing proposal throws up many questions, but looking at the bigger picture it is time that Government adopted a more holistic policy towards all wildlife. The cost of wildlife management should be met, in part, by those who benefit from harvesting it. In turn, it follows that they would like to see that their contribution is not absorbed in the funding of bureaucracy. It is they, after all, who must live with the consequences.

Charles Jardine

Campaign for Angling
Countryside Alliance
367 Kennington Road
SE11 4PT