BEATEN BY THE RULES

Do you know a fish­ery with a list of reg­u­la­tions as long as your arm? Dom Garnett draws a bound­ary be­tween com­mon sense and mad­ness...

Angling Times (UK) - - THE FAR BANK -

EVER get the feel­ing that your lo­cal club or fish­ery was rather too heavy on reg­u­la­tions?

From ban­ning your favourite bait to rul­ing out the most pro­duc­tive hours of the day, there are rule mak­ers who would give lawyers a headache.

Be­fore all the fish­ery own­ers de­cide to make a new rule ban­ning any­one with the ini­tials DG, how­ever, I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing fish­ing anar­chy. Without some guide­lines we would have no fish care stan­dards, for ex­am­ple, to pro­tect our most val­ued species.

In an ideal world, all fish­eries would have just one rule – ‘re­spect the fish and other an­glers’. Or per­haps just a sim­ple ‘don’t be an idiot’, prefer­ably writ­ten in about 27 dif­fer­ent lan­guages. But as some wise soul put it, com­mon sense is not quite as com­mon as it ought to be, and I fully sym­pa­thise with fish­ery own­ers driven to de­spair by a thought­less mi­nor­ity. Peo­ple who need signs to tell them not to lit­ter or set fire to the place.

Per­haps the ul­ti­mate an­swer lies not in an­gry-look­ing signs and long lists, but in ed­u­ca­tion. Per­haps there should be a univer­sal set of agreed an­gling guide­lines, rather like the Coun­try Code? Some coun­tries al­ready en­force a strict code of con­duct, with a test needed to get a li­cence.

Part of the headache in the UK is that with so many pri­vate wa­ters and sep­a­rate an­gling fac­tions, what is kosher on one fish­ery is a shoot­ing of­fence else­where.

The only an­swer is ed­u­ca­tion and di­a­logue be­tween an­glers. If you pro­duce daft or un­en­force­able laws, peo­ple will al­ways break them... but if you can teach an­glers why good prac­tice ben­e­fits all of us, most will com­ply without the need for fines or big sticks.

An­other long list of fish­ery rules – ne­ces­sity or a nui­sance? Clearly this king­fisher can’t read...

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