The Countryside Alliance has branded the proposed sea angling licence “unenforceable, bureaucratic and with no obvious benefit to the recreational sea angler”.

The Government has published a White Paper outlining the proposed contents of a Marine Bill, and a sea fishing licence is included in the proposals. 

Robert Gray, Countryside Alliance Director of Campaigns, commented: “Any legislation that seeks to improve conservation of our marine environment is to be welcomed, but we have concerns about the White Paper’s proposal to introduce sea angling licences.

“England and Wales have over 2,500 miles of coastline, which will make the task of enforcing sea angling licenses expensive and almost-impossible. The revenue raised by the licences has been earmarked for a range of initiatives such as protecting shore access and improving parking, but it seems unlikely that the revenues will go any further than simple enforcement and administration. We are also concerned that holiday anglers should be liable for a licence that aims to raise revenue to pay for coastal parking.

“It is unclear how much licences are going to cost or how much the implementation of this scheme is going to run to, but sea anglers know full well that it is commercial rather than recreational angling that is the biggest threat to marine conservation, which makes it hard to see any tangible benefits.

“The sea angling industry is worth £538m to the economy, and we should be looking to increase participation and welcome people to the sport, especially coastal tourists, rather than scare them off with a layer of bureaucracy that simply cannot deliver benefits.”