Thursday, 24 June 2010

Trust backs live baiting

Angling's governing body has come out strongly in favour of live baiting, in a statement which sets out it policy on the issue.

Fish consume other animals as part, even all, of their diet. In seeking to offer baits which look and behave naturally, anglers may consider the use of live grubs, worms, crustacean or fish as bait. The use of live fish as bait is an established, legal and effective angling method in freshwater and the sea.

There is no difference between using live fish and any other type of live bait, bearing in mind that there is no definitive scientific evidence to support the assertion that fish feel pain in the same way as warm-blooded animals. However, to avoid possible conflict with those who may not share this view it is important that when live baiting, anglers should do so in a responsible manner, both in terms of obeying the law and in terms of conservation.

The Angling Trust believes that the use of live fish as bait is a legitimate and traditional sporting method for catching various predatory species. The decision to employ this method or not is a matter of personal choice.

Banning the use of live bait as a means of stopping the illegal transfer of fish is ill conceived. Live bait should be, and in most cases is, carried out using fish caught from the water being fished. This should create no risk to the health and welfare of the fish present in that water. Therefore, the question of whether or not to allow fishing with live bait should be an issue determined by the riparian owner or the tenant club..

The question of moving fish between waters is, in the view of the Angling Trust, adequately dealt with by current legislation in England and Wales. Whilst it is acknowledged that a small minority of anglers who use live baits may contravene this legislation, we do not believe this is justification for an outright ban. This issue should be dealt with by greater enforcement of the current law. Indeed there are far more significant sources of illegal fish movements such as:

* Unauthorised stocking.
* Escapes and discards from garden ponds and other ‘ornamental’ sites.
* Deliberate but unauthorised introductions by individual anglers.
* Escapes from aquaculture facilities.

General principles

Anglers should always check the fishery rules before using live baits and also ensure that the fish to be used are in ready supply. Fish stocks must not be depleted and "specimen” fish or “rare” or “endangered” species must never be used.

Fish should never be introduced to or removed from any water without the permission of the fishery owner and/or the relevant Environment Agency consent.

Environment Agency byelaws restricting the removal of fish will change in 2010/2011. The number, size and species which may be removed will be regulated and their use restricted to the fishery in which they were caught.

Transfer of live baits between waters carries many risks and may upset the ecological balance and damage the fishery through the spread of either unsuitable fish species, or harmful diseases and parasites.

In England and Wales, written consent is required from the Environment Agency before you introduce fish into any inland water and it will be an offence to be in possession of live fish between waters without consent.

Using live baits on the water from which they are taken

When using live baits from the fishery from which they were caught, they must be retained and used there, preferably on the same day.

Rivers, Canals and Drains ­ In general anglers may transfer livebaits between adjacent stretches of the same river or canal, providing that this does not involve carrying them in a vehicle. Anglers should not move live baits further than they might walk during the course of a day¹s fishing.

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