Coarse fishing close season on English rivers

Closed 11 Mar 2019

Opened 14 Jan 2019

Feedback updated 31 Dec 2019

We asked

Given interest in the river coarse fish close season, the Environment Agency ran a public consultation from 14 January 2019 for 12 weeks to gather any further evidence to help determine if there was a case for changing the byelaw and to understand stakeholder concerns around three options: to retain, amend or remove the close season.

You said

The consultation generated 13,680 responses.

No additional substantive evidence emerged from the consultation. Fifty percent of respondents support removing the close season; 39% support retaining the current close season; and 9% support retaining a close season, but with different dates (four weeks later and two weeks shorter). Those national representative organisations that responded, along with Natural England, supported retaining the close season (The Angling Trust responded, but adopted a neutral position).

Please read the full report on the consultation feedback by clicking on the link below.

Coarse fishing close season on English rivers - public consultation report - Dec 2019, 2.1 MB (PDF document)

We did

The Environment Agency will retain the coarse fishing close season on English rivers.

The existing evidence indicates that removing the close season would pose risk to at least some coarse fish species in some locations.

The Environment Agency will continue to consider new information on the close season as and when it becomes available.

Results updated 31 Dec 2019

The Environment Agency consulted anglers and others on the coarse fish close season on English rivers, to better understand the risks of changing or removing the close season and to collate any additional evidence. This would help us determine whether these is a case for change. 

The consultation ran from 14 January 2019 to 11 March 2019. We publicised the consultation through the media/social media and through email newsletters to online rod licence buyers. We wrote to principal fisheries, conservation and river user groups.

We received 13,680 responses. The vast majority (>90%) were from anglers; 5% were from fishery owners, members of the angling trade and the general public; and 1% were from fishery managers and other organisations.

Overall, 49.2% of responses support removing the close season; 38.8% support retaining the current close season; and 9.2% support retaining a close season, but changing the start and end dates (2.3% were undecided or did not answer the question).

Many participants contributed useful anecdotal evidence and personal opinions, but no additional scientific evidence was forthcoming.

Of the 17 national and local fisheries organisations that responded, 13 supported retaining the close season, 2 supported removing it, 1 supported changing it and 1 did not answer.

While changing or removing the close season would provide additional angling opportunities on rivers and potentially some economic benefits for angling-dependent businesses, the Environment Agency believes, on balance, that these are limited and that they do not override the risks to the long-term viability of fish stocks.

Taking the available evidence into account, the Environment Agency has decided to retain the current close season.

For more information on the consultation, please read the full report by clicking on the link below.

Files:

Overview

We are consulting on future close season arrangements for coarse fishing on English rivers.

The current coarse fishing close season on rivers, some canals and some stillwaters runs from 15 March to 15 June. There is no close season on most canals and most stillwaters.

We want to better understand the risks and benefits associated with any change and the potential impacts on fish populations, angling and wildlife. We want to hear from all those interested in coarse fish and fisheries, to help us decide whether we need to retain, change or remove the current close season.

We may, as a result of this consultation, make new byelaws. If we do, we must advertise them to allow anyone the opportunity to object. This would most likely happen later this year.


Responding to this consultation

Information is provided throughout the online tool which you access by clicking on the Respond online link below. The consultation document and supporting information are listed in the Related Documents section at the bottom of this page. We would encourage you to read them. Should you experience any difficulties accessing the documents please email fisheries@environment-agency.gov.uk

Why we are consulting

The coarse fishing close season has been long debated. There are strongly held views in favour of retaining, removing and changing the current byelaw, but a clear desire to introduce further evidence into the issue.

Along with the Angling Trust and the Institute of Fisheries Management, we set up a study group to examine the evidence around the close season on rivers. Although there is no conclusive evidence supporting a case to either retain or remove the close season, the group has collated considerable available information on the risks around fishing and the close season.

From a 2018 survey of anglers' opinions we know 43% of anglers support retaining the current close season: 17% support retaining a close season, but changing the dates; and 33% support removing the close season (the remainder were undecided).

We now want to carry out a more detailed consultation, to understand the reasons and evidence that support these opinions. In addition to anglers, we also want to include all those with an interest in coarse fish and fisheries - angling clubs, fishery owners, angling representatives and conservation bodies. This feedback will help us determine whether there is a need to change from the current situation and what that change might be.

What happens next

The last day for responding to this consultation is 11 March 2019. After this, we will collate the feedback we receive and publish a report on what you have told us. If you have provided your email address with your response, we will let you know when and where this is available.

If, as a result of this and the evidence we have already collated on the close season, we conclude there is a case to either to change the close season dates or remove it altogether, we will make and advertise new byelaws in 2019. This will give everyone an opportunity to object or support the proposals, before we submit an application to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to confirm the byelaws. The Secretary of State may confirm the byelaws as they stand, make changes to them or reject the application.

Audiences

  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Local councils
  • Angling trade contacts
  • National based fishery, conservation and landowner organisations
  • Government family organisations

Interests

  • Business and industry
  • Fishing and boating
  • Habitats and wildlife