It seems that small victories by sea anglers are annoying the commercial fishing industry, who have even called the angling lobby well organised and well-funded. Yes, really! Following the ban on netting of bass during 2017, I’m told there is more good news regarding netting in estuaries. On March 16, the full committee of the Devon and Severn IFCA passed its proposed new by-law to prevent almost all forms of netting in estuaries within its district. The only exceptions are landing nets and small sandeel seines.
This move marks an important milestone in the protection of vulnerable fish stocks, not least juvenile bass that congregate in large numbers in South West river estuaries. Other important species, such as grey mullet, salmonids and gilthead bream, are expected to benefit too.
The by-law was passed almost without opposition by the members of the authority on this occasion, which was in sharp contrast to the previous meeting of the IFCA when the progress of the by-law was stalled due to protests from commercial netting interests and their supporters.
The outcome is the result of a long process of public consultation and investigation by D&S IFCA officers stretching back almost two years. Considerable financial and human resources were committed to the process, representing a significant percentage of the total annual budget for the IFCA.
The public consultation revealed overwhelming support for the by-law with more than 300 positive responses and only 62 against. The committee was at pains to point out the socio-economic argument for the recreational angling industry as well as the conservation benefits.
The result is a vindication of the positive steps taken by committed angling organisations and individuals to restore healthy sustainable fisheries for the benefit of all stakeholders. Spokesmen for angling interests commended D&S IFCA for its handling of this matter describing it as “exemplary”.
This view was not shared by all. A representative of the commercial netting community vowed to fight to get the by-law blocked and also suggested that there should now be moves to ban all angling from estuaries in future.
The news comes only a few months after a similar by-law was approved by Cornwall IFCA. Both by-laws have now been passed to the Secretary of State for final approval. It is likely that there will be behind the scenes pressure from commercial interests, through their MPs, to block or delay implementation at this stage. This may be a good time for angling interests nationally to show their approval for these by-laws.
There has also been legislation to ban fishing for black bream for three months at part of Sussex’s Kingmere reef, with a bag limit of four fish a day in the other three zones of the famous fishery. You can find out more by turning to page 106.
We’ve got some great fishing in this issue with former world champion Joe Arch giving his tips for catching smoothhounds on page 6, some useful advice for tackling the deep water of Norway on page 12 and some great sport with bull huss on page 18. Henry Gilbey explains how to fish lures in turbulent water (see page 28) while LRF expert Jake Schogler explains how to make and use the Jika rig (page 38).
Our boat angling coverage includes fishing for smoothhounds (page 62), black bream (page 66) and turbot (page 72), and kayak angler Mark Crame advises on tackle choices on page 84.
My colleague Paul Fenech has been busy testing rods, so check out his views on the new rods from Century, Imax and Tronixpro, in our tackle section starting on page 88.
Once again we’ve got loads of your great catches in the Your Fishing section, starting on page 106, and there’s also a chance to win a stack of fishing luggage on page 115.
There’s so much more to enjoy, including our free tips booklet and bumper Fishing Megastore tackle catalogue.
Finally, congratulations to Stephen Donoghue, of Widnes, who won the Tronixpro Cobra Light rod competition in Sea Angler 541.
Enjoy the magazine!