Friday, May 11, 2007

No toSea Angling Licences

At the North Down Borough Council Corporate meeting I proposed the following Notice of Motion.

“Plans have been announced by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, (Defra) to consult on sea angling licences which could
be forced on sea anglers to buy annual £22 sea fishing licences. The Minister wants to impose this charge on beach anglers, boat fishing and charter trips which will overturn a tradition enshrined in British common law for almost 800 years. The proposal would require everyone over the age of 12 who fishes with a rod and line to have a licence.

This is pathetic and is simply another money-spinner for the Treasury. I propose that we write to Defra opposing this proposed charge.”

Following this, I spoke on the Notice of Motion stating, this is an amazing proposal and is scraping the bottom of how to raise money by the Treasury. How anyone came up with such an idea is taking Defra to the realms of Gilbert and Sullivan - farcical. It is even more amazing that these proposals were drawn up in consultation with the Prime Minister’s strategy unit with the thoughts that it could raise some £3m a year.

Can you imagine an official or even a department with the grand title of – for example - Floating Fishing Rod Inspector – with probably a helicopter to catch out 12-year-old fishing? I wonder if consideration has been given to the expense of patrolling the UK coastline – not to mention spying on small boats at sea. This is like a number of the ideas imposed on the law abiding citizen – expensive to impose and will create enormous bad feelings

It is estimated that 1.1m people take part in the age-old tradition of angling in the UK contributing some £1.3bn to local economies.

This new bill is not expected until 2009 and I hope that Defra sees sense and withdraws a bill which is taking away a freedom laid down in ancient laws.

As the premier maritime Borough in N Ireland it is important that we write in opposition to this proposed Bill.

I am delighted that several members spoke in support and the Notice had unanimous support.