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


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