Tuesday, 20 April 2010

BAA ban upheld but PAC vows to fight on

Predator anglers have vowed to keep on fighting to defend their sport after Birmingham Anglers Association upheld its controversial ban on livebaiting.

Its executive committee has ignored pleas for unity from the Pike Anglers Club, which said the ban was "damaging and divisive".

In a brief e-mail, BAA secretary John Williams said: "The committee briefly discussed the issue again and re-confirmed their approval of the Changes to our bye-laws. “

Mr Williams said the committee registered its disapproval of adverse press coverage of the issue.

But in a statement, the PAC said: "From the outset, we have tried to negotiate with the BAA committee but were allowed only to put our concerns to Mr Williams, who has passed them on.

"If press coverage of the BAA's actions has been less than sympathetic they need to ask themselves why.

"They ban boat fishing on navigable rivers. They ban livebaiting despite the Environment Agency coming down in support of the method. They charge different membership fees for men and women. The BAA is no longer an inclusive club for all anglers.

"This is a sad day for our sport, but angling can rest assured we have no intention of giving up."

The Midlands club broke ranks and announced its decision weeks before new national by-laws came into force giving the green light to the method.

The EA drew up the by-laws after a lengthy consultation process anyone could take part in. They increased the protection of mature coarse fish, amid concerns at the numbers being taken for the table, but also allowed predator anglers to take up to 15 fish a day for use as bait.

"We must also recognise that the taking of small fish for bait is an important part of predator fishing," the EA said. "There is no evidence that this is damaging stocks and therefore should be allowed to continue."

The BAA committee disregarded the EA's findings when it voted unanimously to outlaw the removal of any fish - apart from zander - from their waters.

Midlands LO Steve Bown put predator angling's case to the BAA, after Angling Times asked: What's next - a ban on keepnets.

When Steve Bown met its secretary John Williams, he said predator anglers were the only branch of angling to be adversely affected by the club's new by-laws.

He said the ban would not prevent illegal fish removals, while justifying it on welfare grounds was a dangerous step for angling.

"Predator anglers fishing under restrictions will be tempted to flout rules on waters which rarely see a bailiff," he added. "We would rather work within the limits of acctpable club rules.

"Working with local prdator anglers to achieve a mutually-acceptable by-law would be excellent publicity for the BAA.

"A demonstration of different branches of angling working together would no doubt encourage more people to join."

Mr Williams said the PAC's concerns would be passed on to the BAA's executive at its next meeting. The BAA committee has the power to revisit the issue, though it remains to be seen whether it will choose to do so.

A BAA ban on livebaiting was famously over-turned by the club in what was seen as a landmark victory in the 1980s. The PAC is now considering the next step.

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