Saturday, 17 April 2010

Time to put an end to zandercide..?

Today's Eastern Daily Press features a lengthy opinion piece, setting out a compelling case for why zander should be protected just like any other coarse fish.

"More lies have been told about pike than any other fish, Queen Victoria's inspector of fisheries Frank Buckland once famously observed. If zander had been swimming in our rivers when the phrase was first coined, he might just as easily have said it about them."

Zander have been excluded from new national fishery by-laws, which forbid anglers from removing any fish apart from a limited number for bait. And Natural England wants anglers to kill all the zander they catch.

"But those who target them in Fenland's sprawling maze of rivers and drains, and pike anglers who catch them from time to time, have more respect for their quarry than they do for officialdom," the piece observes.

"Most will do what they've always done, return the fish unharmed after a picture or two regardless of what anyone says to the contrary."

Environment Agency officials have already gone on record stating they will not prosecute anyone who does so, because zander were lawfully stocked by one of its predecessors two decades before the Wildlife and Countyside Act classified them an unwelcome alien species.

"Activists see zander as a watershed for angling, because officialdom is widely feared to have bigger fish to fry when it comes to what species do and do not belong in our rivers."

Zander aren't the only so-called alien fish swimming in some of our rivers, the article concludes. But no-ones advocating killing barbel and carp, yet.

It advocates a simple solution: "A ground zero approach, which draws a line under waters where
zander existed prior to the Wildlife and Countryside Act and where they should be allowed to remain because they have become naturalised.

"That doesn't mean anyone's calling for them to b stocked anywhere else - including the Broads.

"It just means where they're already present and valued as a sporting fish, with a role to play in our rivers, they should be returned."

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