Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the National Angling Alliance, The Joint Angling Governing Bodies and The Moran Committee

  1.  There are five million anglers[1] in the UK who are expecting the Government's commitment to the sport to be reflected in clear and concise wording in the Animal Welfare Bill. However imprecise drafting and lack of definition in the draft bill create great difficulties for both recreational fishing and fisheries, eg the term "kept animal" could mean fish at the point of capture or retained in keep nets, albeit on a temporary basis. It would also cover those fish, which are "kept" in lakes and reservoirs and are the property of the riparian owner or lessee.

  1.1  An example of loose drafting is given below:

  1.1.1  Clause 53

  Subsection (1)

  Subject to the provisions of this section, in this Act, "animal" means a vertebrate other than man. That includes fish, even though the Government claims this Bill does not affect angling!

  1.1.2  Clause 54

  Subsection (2)

  An animal is a "protected animal" for the purposes of this Act if:

  (b)(i)  is being kept by man


  (iii)  is temporarily in the custody or control of man.

  (b)(i)  covers fish kept in lakes and ponds and therefore in law owned, rather than wild fish in rivers, which belong to no one.

  (iii)  covers fish retained by anglers in keep nets or hooked by an angler.

  Subsection (3)

  An animal is "kept by man" for the purposes of this Act if there is a person (legal entity?) who owns or is responsible for, or in charge of it.

  This subsection covers fish kept in private lakes and ponds, therefore in law owned and therefore "kept by man".

  1.2  The public statements by Government representatives that, "this Bill will only apply to vertebrates and therefore excludes fish and birds" is plainly wrong and misleading according to the Linnaean system of classification[2]. We often divide animals into vertebrates and invertebrates but this is not a particularly useful way of classifying animals.

  Each phylum or sub-phylum is divided into a number of classes. The sub-phylum vertebrata is divided into:

    —  Class fishes.

    —  Class amphibians (frogs, toads, newts, salamanders etc).

    —  Class reptiles (turtles, tortoises, lizards, snakes etc).

    —  Class birds (vertebrates with feathers).

    —  Class mammals (vertebrates the female of which produces milk for her young).

  Fish and birds are both vertebrates. This lack of understanding of basic biological classification has confused the draft bill and calls into question how the Bill is being promoted. Hence the need of anglers for a positive statement within the Bill determining which classes of animals to which the Bill applies.

  2.  Recreational anglers are encouraged that the Government has stated that the proposed legislation will not apply to fishing. This statement must be enshrined in the final Animal Welfare Bill, if the Government's assurance to enhance and protect our sport is to be justified.

  2.1  The Bill must include these clearly stated clauses:

  This Act applies to amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals only.

  This Act applies to farmed animals and pets only.

  2.2  Without these clear and unquestionable statements we believe that, to deliver the Government's commitment to the sport, there would need to be copious notes and explanations excluding fishing and fisheries on almost every page of the Animal Welfare Bill.

  3.  The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act provides for the welfare of fish. Recreational fishing is well governed by existing legislation and voluntary codes of practice and conduct. These codes and Environment Agency bylaws cover every eventuality affecting the welfare of fish and the aquatic environment. They are continually reviewed for ongoing improvement.

  4.  We believe Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will realise the problems this draft Bill introduces into law and suggest suitable changes to the Government.

  5.  Our legal advisors are presently seeking to draft clauses to avoid the problems stated above.

  For and on behalf of:

National Anglers' Alliance—Recreational Fishing.

Angling Trades Association.

National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives; National Federation of Anglers; National Federation of Sea Anglers; Salmon and Trout Association; Specialist Anglers' Alliance.

Joint Angling Governing Bodies—Development and Training in Angling; National Federation of Anglers; National Federation of Sea Anglers; Salmon and Trout Association.

The Moran Committee—Fisheries, England and Wales.

Anglers Conservation Association.

Angling Trades Association.

Association of Stillwater Game Fisheries.

Atlantic Salmon Trust.

Commercial Coarse Fisheries Association.

Institute of Fisheries Management.

National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives; National Federation of Anglers; National Federation of Sea Anglers; Salmon and Trout Association; Specialist Anglers' Alliance; Welsh Salmon and Trout Association.

24 August 2004

1   Environment Agency-Our Nation's Rivers, 2004-3.9 million freshwater anglers. DEFRA/Drew Associates-Research into the Economic Contribution of Sea Angling, 2004-1.1 million+ sea anglers. Back

2   Linnaean system of classification: The Animal Kingdom is divided into a number of phyla: Phylum mollusca (shell-fish, slugs, snails etc), Phylum porifora (sponges etc), Phylum annelida (segmented worms etc), Phylum arthropoda (spiders, insects, crustacea etc), Phylum chordata (animals with notochords-see below). Phylum echinodermata (star fishes, sea urchins etc) Many other phyla Some phyla are divided into sub-phyla. The phylum chordata is divided into; Sub-phylum vertebrata (animals with backbones) Sub-phylum tunicata (sea squirts etc) Sub-phylum cephalochordata (lancelets etc). A notochord is a hollow tube of nerves running along the back of the animal. In vertebrates it is the spinal cord, which runs down the middle of the backbone. Back

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