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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Taking fish etc
Section 215: Prohibited implements

548.This section amends section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. Section 1 creates offences in relation to certain instruments used for taking fish; in particular section 1(1)(a) lists instruments the use of which is prohibited.

549.Subsection (2)(a) adds tailers to the list in section 1(1)(a). A tailer is a pole with a retractable loop of wire at the end, which is looped around the body of the fish to help remove it from the water.

550.Subsections (2)(b), (3) and (4) extend the list of fisheries to which section 1 applies to those for eels, lampreys, smelt, shad. Subsection (5) inserts a new subsection (1A) into section 1, which extends this list to fisheries for any fish specified in an order made under new section 40A of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 (inserted by section 221).

551.Subsection (5) also inserts a new subsection (1B) into section 1, which gives the appropriate national authority power by order to add or remove instruments from the list in section 1(1)(a).

552.Subsection (6) inserts new section 1(3A), by virtue of which references in section 1 to waters include waters adjoining the coast of England and Wales to a distance of six nautical miles from baselines. This corresponds to the area of sea in which the Environment Agency carries out its functions.

553.Section 1(4) of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 permits the use of a gaff or tailer when fishing with a rod and line. A gaff is a pole with a steel hook mounted on the end, used to snag the fish, and subsequently to remove it from the water. Subsection (7) omits both this subsection, and the references to it within the section, with the effect that the use of these instruments is no longer permitted.

Section 216: Roe etc

554.This section amends section 2 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. Section 2(1) prohibits the use of roe (fish eggs) and the buying, sale or possession of salmon or trout roe, for the purpose of fishing for salmon, trout or freshwater fish.

555.Section 2(1)(a) is amended by extending the prohibition on the use of roe for the purpose of fishing to lampreys, smelt, shad, and to any other specified fish (by order under new section 40A). This section amends section 2(1)(b) to cover the buying, selling, exposing for sale or possession of any roe for that purpose.

556.Section 2(2) is amended to extend the prohibition on taking, killing or injuring and buying, selling or possession of any unclean or immature fish to lampreys, smelt and shad. An unclean fish is one which is about to spawn, or has recently spawned and has not yet recovered from spawning.

557.Subsection (4) allows the taking of immature freshwater fish where permitted by Environment Agency byelaws.

Section 217: Licences to fish

558.This section amends section 25 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, which requires the Environment Agency to regulate fishing for salmon, trout, eels and freshwater fish by means of a system of licensing.

559.Subsection (1) inserts new section 25(1) which amends the scope of the licensing system by extending the list of kinds of fish to which the licensing system applies to include lampreys, smelt and any fish specified in an order made under new section 40A of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. New section 25(1) also restricts the licensing system to licensable means of fishing. Licensable means of fishing are the instruments set out in new section 25(1A). These are rod and line, historic installations (certain fixed nets and traps which were certified under old legislation, or were in use by virtue of a grant or charter or immemorial usage in 1861) and such other means of fishing as the appropriate national authority may specify by order.

560.A person who fishes otherwise than by a licensable means of fishing is required to have an authorisation under new section 27A of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, inserted by section 219.

561.Subsection (2) provides that the Environment Agency, which already has the power to introduce licences for different areas, may introduce licences in relation to different descriptions of waters. For example, this power might be used to introduce different licences for canals as opposed to rivers.

562.Subsection (3) amends section 25(4) by removing a person’s entitlement to use a gaff or tailer when fishing with rod and line. This flows from the addition of tailers to the list of prohibited instruments in section 1.

563.Subsection (4) omits previous provisions which, first, deemed a licence for fishing for salmon also to allow fishing for trout, and, second, deemed a licence for fishing for salmon or trout to allow fishing also for freshwater fish and eels.

564.Subsection (5) inserts new section 25(10) and (11), which allows the Environment Agency to permit people to fish by licensable means of fishing without a licence. For example, the Agency may allow those who need to remove excess fish from a particular water for management reasons, to do so without a licence.

565.Subsection (6) amends paragraph 11, and omits paragraph 12, of Schedule 2 to the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. This removes the requirement to pay 20p for each name removed from, inserted into or substituted in a fishing licence.

566.Subsection (7) empowers the Environment Agency to impose conditions (by way of notice) on a licence to use historic installations. Conditions might include a limit on the number of fish which may be taken, specifying the times at which they may be taken or the gear which may be used. A breach of such a licence condition is an offence under section 27 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

Section 218: Limitation of licences

567.This section amends section 26 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. Section 26 enables the Environment Agency, by order confirmed by the Minister, to limit the number of licences which it may issue for fishing for salmon or trout other than rainbow trout with any specified instrument other than rod and line. References to “the Minister” are replaced by references to the appropriate national authority throughout this section.

568.The amendments made by subsection (2) allow orders under section 26 to be made in respect of any kind of licence issued under section 25. Exceptions to this are provided by subsection (3). This inserts new section 26(1A) and (1B), which sets out the circumstances in which an order may be made and excludes fishing by rod and line or historic installation from the scope of an order. This will allow the Environment Agency to limit the number of licences for all those fisheries subject to the system of licensing under section 25(1). New section 26(1A)(b) will empower the Environment Agency to limit the number of licences in fisheries that have a significant impact on the marine or aquatic environment.

569.The Minister is currently required to hold a local inquiry before confirming an order made under section 26 if the number of licences proposed to be issued is less than the number of licences issued in any of the three preceding years, or if an objection is made by any person who has held a relevant licence during each of the two preceding years. Subsection (4) amends section 26(3) to remove the obligation to hold a local inquiry, and replaces it with a power to do so.

570.Section 26(4) and (5) prohibits Ministers from confirming an order if it fails to secure that any person who is dependent on fishing for his livelihood may obtain a licence under it. Subsection (5) replaces this requirement with a power for the Environment Agency to pay compensation.

Section 219: Authorisation to fish

571.This section inserts new sections 27A and 27B into the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. New section 27A gives the Environment Agency power to authorise a person to use any means (other than a licensable means of fishing) to fish for salmon, trout, eels, lampreys, smelt and freshwater fish, and other specified fish (by order under new section 40A). The Environment Agency may refuse or revoke authorisations, subject them to conditions, charge for them and grant them for limited periods of time. The Agency will also be able to grant an authorisation to a business or organisation or to a named individual within that organisation.

572.New section 27B makes it an offence to fish for or take fish using any means of fishing, other than an instrument for which a licence is required, without an authorisation.

Section 220: Enforcement

573.This section amends Part 5 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

574.Subsection (2) amends section 31. Section 31 gives water bailiffs (enforcement officers of the Environment Agency) powers of search and seizure where instruments or baits have been used in contravention of the Act. Subsection (2)(a) and (b) removes references to the Act so as to allow water bailiffs to check, amongst other things, partially submerged fishing gear to ensure hooks or bait prohibited under byelaws are not being used.

575.Subsection (2)(c) provides that a water bailiff’s power of seizure includes a sample of any fish.

576.Subsection 2(d) allows water bailiffs to disable or destroy dams, fishing weirs, fishing mill dams or fixed engines suspected of having been operated or used, or likely to be used in contravention of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. This replaces, with some changes, the powers that were previously in sections 6, 7, and 8 of the 1975 Act but are deleted by other provisions in this Act.

577.Subsection (3) amends section 32. Section 32 gives water bailiffs the power to enter, remain upon and traverse any lands adjoining or near to any waters, subject to exceptions. The amendment removes the exception for decoys or lands used exclusively for the preservation of wild fowl which will allow, for example, water bailiffs to take action on such land against poaching.

578.Subsection (4) amends section 33. Section 33 enables a justice of the peace to issue a warrant authorising a water bailiff to enter land for the purpose of seizing illegal nets and other such instruments as well as salmon, trout, freshwater fish or eels that might have been illegally taken. Subsection (4)(a) extends the power of seizure to legal instruments suspected to have been used illegally and subsection (4)(b) extends the power to any fish illegally taken or sold. Subsection (4)(c) extends the purpose for which a power of entry may be authorised to the destruction or disablement of any fixed engine, dam, fishing weir or fishing mill dam found on the premises and suspected of having been used illegally.

579.Subsection (5) increases the period during which a warrant remains in force from one week to three months.

580.Subsection (6) amends section 34. Section 34 enables water bailiffs to seize without warrant any person who has illegally taken or killed fish, or is found on or near any waters with the intent so to do, or with any prohibited instrument but only during the period between sunset and sunrise. Subsection (6) removes this restriction.

581.Subsections (7) and (8) amend section 35. Section 35 empowers water bailiffs and other enforcement officers to demand a person fishing, suspected of being about to fish, or having fished in the preceding half hour, to produce his fishing licence or other authority to fish.

582.Subsections (7)(a) and (7)(b) replace the reference to having fished within “the preceding half hour” with having fished “recently” and allow water bailiffs to demand the production of a fishing licence from those suspected of intending to fish or those who have recently fished.

583.Subsection (7)(c) limits water bailiffs’ and other enforcement officers’ powers to require the production of a licence or authorisation issued under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 or a licence issued under section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, under which certain species of fish are protected.

584.Subsection (8) omits section 35(2). This allowed any person, on the production of their own fishing licence, to demand another person produce their fishing licence and to state their name and address.

585.Subsection (9) increases the fine for using any explosive substance, any poison or other noxious substance, or any electrical device with the intent to take or destroy fish in contravention of section 5 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 from the prescribed sum (currently £5,000) to £50,000.

Section 221: Power to specify fish

586.This section inserts a new section 40A into the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.

587.New section 40A empowers the appropriate national authority to specify additional species of fish to which the following provisions will apply:

  • fishing with prohibited instruments (section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975);

  • use of roe (section 2 of that Act);

  • licensing and authorisation of fishing activities (sections 25 and 27A of that Act);

  • the offence of handling fish in suspicious circumstances (section 32 of the Salmon Act 1986);

  • byelaw making powers (paragraph 6 of Schedule 25 to the Water Resources Act 1991); and

  • the duties of the Environment Agency (section 6(6) of the Environment Act 1995).

Section 222: Order-making powers: supplementary

588.This section inserts section 40B into the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, which sets out the procedure for making an order made under section 40A described above.

Section 223: Definitions relating to fish

589.This section amends section 41 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. It gives amended definitions for eels and freshwater fish and new definitions for freshwater crayfish and smelt.

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