Coarse Fish Close Season Consultation Officially Begins

It’s been talked about a great deal recently and debated at Angling Trust Fisheries Forums right around the country for nearly a year. Now from today, everyone can officially make their views known to the Environment Agency with regards to the Coarse Fish Close Season.

The Coarse Fish Close Season on rivers and certain stillwaters and canals currently runs from the 15th March to the 15th June and is designed to protect coarse fish during the key spawning period, to ensure healthy stocks of fish. However in recent years there have been calls from some quarters to either amend the current close season or abolish altogether.

The Environment Agency along with ourselves at the Angling Trust and the Institute of Fisheries Management, set up a study group some time ago to examine the evidence around the close season on rivers. Although there is no conclusive evidence supporting a case to either retain or remove the close season, the group has collated considerable available information on the risks around fishing and the close season. All of this information is available as support documents via the link at the bottom of this page.

A 2018 survey of a limited number of anglers’ opinions showed that 43% of anglers who were asked, supported retaining the current close season: 17% support retaining a close season, but changing the dates; and 33% support removing the close season (the remainder were undecided).

The Environment Agency removed the close season from most stillwaters in 1995 and from most canals in 2000. However they retained it on rivers. Their position has been that any proposal to remove the close season from rivers must be based on sound science. At that time such evidence was not available.

The Environment Agency now want to carry out a more detailed consultation, to understand the reasons and evidence that support these opinions. In addition to anglers, they also want to include all those with an interest in coarse fish and fisheries – angling clubs, fishery owners, angling representatives and conservation bodies. This feedback will help them determine whether there is a need to change from the current situation and what that change might be.

We would encourage all anglers, angling clubs and fisheries to get involved with this consultation and we would also particularly encourage everyone to read the supporting documents and evidence that is supplied before submitting a response. This is a key decision for our rivers and it’s important that everyone who has a view takes this opportunity to have their voice heard.

Below are a couple of links that are well worth a read:

3 views on the close season

Views and key information on the close season debate

The Environment Agency have now opened their official consultation and will be consulting on three options:

  •         Retain the current coarse fish close season on rivers – 15 March to 15 June
  •         Retain a close season, but change the duration – 15 April to 30 June
  •         Remove the close season altogether.

The last date for responding to this consultation is 11 March 2019. After that the Environment Agency will publish all responses to the consultation (minus personal information and only where respondents have not withheld their permission to do so). They will collate the feedback they receive and publish a report on what people have told them. They will then consider this feedback and any fresh evidence they receive. If they conclude there is a case to either to change the close season dates or remove it altogether, they will make and advertise new byelaws in 2019. This will give everyone an opportunity to object or support the proposals, before they submit an application to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to confirm any changes they decide on. It will then be up to the Secretary of State to decide if they support the recommendations.

The consultation will be online for 8 weeks from today (14 January) to 11 March 2019. It can be accessed by clicking the link below.

Environment Agency Coarse Fish Close Season Consultation


20 thoughts on “Coarse Fish Close Season Consultation Officially Begins

  1. I,have been a angler for the last 53, years &have never fished [close]season , on any river/lake until june so that all fish can spawn in peace without the presence of anglers trying to catch them it is a STRESSFUL time for them so surely waiting till mid-june to restart fishing is not a big deal [this is MY opinion only do not want to speak for anyone else.

  2. blimey i am confused now,as a die hard close season fan i am now having to have a rethink but i do not fear change as long as our rivers and fish are the priority. i am now going fishing to think about it.

  3. I was all for keeping the closed season as is but things need to change with regards to balliffs. Been a fisherman since I was a little boy grown up doing what I do best. I’m forever seeing people fishing without lisences or in the closed season. Balliffs need to be more active and check for lisences more often. Iv lived in Shropshire for 7years now iv not once been asked or even seen a balliff to prove I have a lisence. With the way the weather is becoming more and more abnormal I stand by Removing the closed season

  4. Remove close season. Full stop.
    Extra eyes and ears are much needed in the ever increasing problems fish stocks are facing.
    (Poaching and predation)
    After all we are the guardians of our watetways

  5. There should either be a blanket close season on all waters including Canals, stillwaters and Commercials-or on none at all I cant see any difference between a Canal-and the land drains in our area, but you can fish canals (of which there are none within miles of us) and not drians.
    In my opinion.the close season should be scrapped altogether,it just does not make any sense to seperate the two. if its said to protect the fish in rivers, dont still water fish need protecting too.
    In our area the rivers impose thier own close season as they are so choc a bloc with weed from about may to november no one can fish them anyway.

  6. With most waters having a social media link even Stillwater’s not affected by the official close season they still close for a period when spawning occurs generally based on annual weather so think that all free stretches should retain the close season and all club /syndicate/day ticket waters be controlled by fishery management with no dated period

  7. Why don’t we have a vote. I would vote for removing the close season altogether. I am a water bailiff for Luton AC on the GUC around the Leighton buzzard area. The close season was removed from canals many years ago. They are fishing better now than at any time in my lifetime (63 years) When the carp are spawning and there are numerous hundreds of them they are virtually impossible to catch. As are the other species. Also after spawning they need to feed up and recoup. The fact there is plenty of food (anglers baits) going into the canal has helped them immensely.The actual environment (grass, reeds etc) are in a better state than back in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s when 10-20 times more anglers trod the towpath every weekend.

  8. I am a fisherman and have carried out a lot of work on waters in the past cleaning up rubbish and repairing the swims, banks and access routes.
    And It Should Remain !!!
    The close season should remain because its an important time of year for the environmental effect on other animals and vegetation which live close or on the waters and access routes.
    This is not just a fish issue it’s a regeneration time for all.
    Including the ground area giving it chance to dry and solidify after the winter.

  9. I Baillif a lot of waters in Whittlesey and the Fens closed season is not only about fishing Birds nest throughout the closed season and anglers trampling along river banks tread on eggs /young ect you have all species of creatures with eggs and young during that crucial time not all fish spawn by the clock but that’s not the point sitting on the Bank watching nature after June is wonderful frightening and treading on them from March to June is unforgivable

  10. I think they should stay closed but move the dates forward. I fish rivers all the time an i no quite alot about spawning times

  11. For the sake of the fish stock, abolish the closed season in rivers.
    If the rivers rarely see someone who cares for their waters during the closed season, human, bird and mammal predators will have an ‘open season’ The presence of anglers all year will provide a greater degree of protection.

  12. I strongly support the retention of the existing closed season
    Surely our respect for our quarry should include this cessation of fishing for the time when spawning is taking place

  13. Due to climate change and the seasons becoming a degree or two warmer in recent years the close season dates need amending to take this into consideration , fish can spawn earlier than when the existing dates where first agreed . The dates need moving back or move one forward and one back to cover all spieces , in the last 20 years ive seen English Rivers neglected due to lack of EA management and support and the de-classefication of small rivers into drains to save the EA money so they dont have to manage said rivers, so all in all the fish of our rivers need all the help they can get

  14. I would like to see the season open all year on River’s, it’s only Fare with canals and lakes opened all year. The other reason is for the the tackle shop’s which are closing down, especially by River’s.

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