One of Europe's biggest suppliers of pike gags has agreed to discontinue them after approaches from one of the PAC's regional organisers.
Notts-based Alan Dudhill contacted firms to urge them to abandon the crude and outdated unhooking tools.
"Being rather ambitious I decided to start at the top by contacting Fladen Fishing in Sweden, the biggest of the suppliers of gags to the UK market," Alan said.
"They wasted no time in responding to my concerns and immediately put me in touch with Rachael Bradwick, assistant managing director of Fladen Fishing UK."
Rachael Bradwick's response was quick and to the point.
"It’s concerned us to hear that this item could be harmful to fish if used in the wrong hands and felt obliged to discontinue it," she said.
"I’m pleased to confirm that Fladen have decided to withdraw their pike gags from the UK market and they will not appear in their 2011 catalogue. "
Alan said the move was a "significant and commendable move" by Fladen. Fellow importer WSB Tackle - another significant supplier of gags to the trade - was quick to follow suit.
UK general manager Mario Massimino said: "We have also decided to stop the import of pike gags, and not to include them in our next catalogue. We already sell a lot of forceps, and do recommend these as a preference over pike gags."
WSB has also confirmed that they will refer their customers to the PAC web site to learn safe handling and unhooking techniques.
Alan said: "Experienced and responsible pike anglers will know that gags have no place in modern day pike angling. They are near useless, cause damage to the fish and are completely unnecessary. Indeed they are already illegal in Scotland and high on the agenda to be banned completely in England and Wales.
"As a life-long supporter of the PAC and a bit of a ‘pike hugger’, I’ve spent years challenging retailers about the sale of gags with mixed results.
"Education always seemed to be the key but with untold access to information on pike welfare and handling, my opinion was that if it hadn’t sunk in yet, it probably wouldn’t do. I eventually decided to miss out the ‘middle-man’ and go direct to the main importers and suppliers."
Alan said he would now be approaching other manufacturers, urging them to follow the lead set by Fladen and WSB.
"I’m sure that other companies will now show the same level of responsibility and put fish welfare before profits. Hopefully the pike gag will soon be eradicated from the shelves and resigned to the medieval archives along with the gaff."
For tips on the safe handling and unhooking of pike, click here to visit the PAC website.