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Charter fishing ban labeled ‘absurd and illogical’

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The Angling Trust has described the UK Government’s decision to ban charter fishing as ‘absurd and illogical.”

The UK Government’s decision to outlaw fishing by charter boats has been labeled ‘absurd and illogical’ by fishing and boating organisations.

Both the Angling Trust and the Professional Boatman’s Association (PBA) are campaigning against the ruling by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). 

The Government declared on June 1 that fishing could be conducted alone, with members of the same household or with no more than five people a minimum of two metres apart.

But DEFRA’s new guidance, issued on June 11, directly contradicts that by ruling that operators should not allow skippered day boat hire or skippered day charter boat hire, yet seeks no restrictions on self-drive day boat hire.

“Despite meetings and lengthy correspondence, DEFRA officials are refusing to budge,” says a media update from the Angling Trust. And the situation has prompted the Trust and the PBA to join forces with scuba diving groups in sending a letter to Environment Secretary, George Eustice, saying the restrictions have little basis in law and could leave his department open to legal challenge by skippers for damage to their businesses.

The letter says: “Your continuing guidance is directly causing serious losses to the charter boat industry, to associated business, and to anglers, divers and others who wish and, in many cases, have booked to use them. Yet it appears to have no basis in law and appears to have been made on an error of fact which you should not have made, and undoubtedly are now aware of.

“We have sought at all times to work with the departments of government, to support and encourage compliance with law and guidelines in these difficult times. We still wish to do so, but we cannot ignore the unjustified damage your guidance is doing to our members, and an industry we represent. We very much hope that we do not have to examine more closely the legal remedies which may be open to those we represent, and others currently being harmed.”

Martin Salter, Head of Policy at the Angling Trust, said: “We do not believe that there is a justifiable legal basis for allowing day boat hire and at the same time unreasonably restricting professional charter boat skippers from conducting their businesses to responsible COVID compliant guidelines. 

“As long as they have the necessary insurance, and can maintain social distancing amongst their clients, our recommendation to skippers is that they should continue to put to sea. Hopefully commonsense will prevail and we won’t have to resolve these matters in a court of law.”

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