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Is shad fishing legal?


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#1 Worms

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:03 PM

Following a conversation with a colleague and angling mate I decided to look up the current legislation on Shad as it all seems a bit complicated. I am fortunate to fish a river that Twaite shad enter and occasionally catch them on wet fly whilst trout fishing. It got even more worrying when I saw this click here!

Google searches present you with the following International protection status for shad:

Allis and Twaite shad, protected under Appendix II Bern convention,

Twaite had Annex IVa EC Habitats directive
Allis shad Annex II and VEC Habitats directive

Allis and Twaite shad, Schedule 2 The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 1994

Allis shad, Schedule 5 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (plus amendments)
Twaite shad Schedule 5 and 9 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (plus amendments)

The actual legislation is the following (based on currently available documentation)

Allis and Twaite shad, protected under Appendix III Bern convention, Basically apply common sense but, no restrictions on taking or killing as long as its not by poisons, explosives etc.

Allis and Twaite shad, EC Habitats directive Annex II and III (habitat protection) and V canít kill them with poisons and explosives.

Schedule 3 The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 1994. (Also Barbel and Grayling!) again Poison and explosives

Schedule 5 WCA 1981 (plus amendments)
Allis Shad (in respect of section 9(1) (killing, taking and injuring) and (4)(a) only) prohibiting intentional or reckless damage/destruction of place of shelter/protection
Twaite shad section 9(4)(a) only.

So legally there appears to be no current legislation that prevents one fishing for Twaite shad in UK waters.

I will follow this up with some calls to the appropriate authorities.

Also as mentioned by Vagabond, they do lose scales and they also need to be returned to the water rapidly and with great care.

As they are very difficult to distinguish from Allis shad as has been previously mentioned then this could lead to problems however, some authorities claim that the Allis shad is extinct as a breeding fish in UK freshwater!

Something to ponder and they fight like demons on a light cane rod and silk line!

This post is also on the sea fishing side as I originally posted it as an answer to a query.
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#2 Vagabond

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 08:04 PM

I flyfish various estuaries for mullet. Sometimes I catch one !

Accidental captures include seatrout, bass and very occasionally, shad. As all the fish that take my fly are released unharmed , and I have a valid seatrout licence, I can't see any problem.

Deliberate targetting of shad is not on, but I don't do that.


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#3 Worms

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 08:35 PM

I flyfish various estuaries for mullet. Sometimes I catch one !

Accidental captures include seatrout, bass and very occasionally, shad. As all the fish that take my fly are released unharmed , and I have a valid seatrout licence, I can't see any problem.

Deliberate targetting of shad is not on, but I don't do that.

This is decidedly inland!

I recall about 30 years ago, not far from Worcester, that during May the banks of the River Teme below the Salmon ladder at Powick weir would be littered with the corpses of twaite shad. The flesh apparently being too bony and unpalatable but the roe being prized as a delicacy.

Fortunately this seems to have stopped, however the shad (probably depending on water levels as they migrate to freshwater) have been recorded further upstream. This to me is great news, potential expansion of shad breeding grounds can only be good.

The potential problem that I foresee is that the river (home to a significant number of game and coarse anglers) will produce higher numbers of shad to anglers and the possibility that some unfortunate will be subjected to a lengthy and no doubt well publicised court case before finally being released without a conviction. By then, once the media has finished with it the poor unfortunate and most other anglers in the country will have been tarred with the same brush prior to the case being abandoned.

If fishing for twaite shad is legal then, well, why not fish for them, where they do occur numbers can be prolific (and unlike Allis shad they don't all die after spawning). They are no good to eat so return them (as the vast majority of responsible anglers do anyway). On top of that, the waters that I fish are so restricted that the only legitimate way to fish for them is with a salmon licence (spinning in the coarse close season) or fly fishing.

As I mentioned in the first post, I need to contact a few people/organisations and find out what the general concensus is regarding the idea behind the protection and also to clarify this mess regarding popular myth on their protection status.

Thanks for your comments Vagabond, keep them coming.
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#4 phil dean

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 02:37 PM

I didn't even realise that there were two varieties.

Why shouldn't we fish for them if it's not illegal?

It's a personal thing, there's nothing you can do about an unintended capture, but many anglers are not great and handling fish, in fact, the word I would use is crap, plus I assume that there is no research into their likely chance of survival after capture.

With such a rare species (though I appreciate that their numbers can be great in some rivers) i wouldn't target them unless I was confident that killing (which I would assume could happen), wouldn't have an effect on numbers and secondly, that my catching them wouldn't encourage others to do the same, as, once they become a target for a number of anglers, the pressure could do irreparable harm to the stocks.
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#5 Worms

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 04:05 PM

I didn't even realise that there were two varieties.

Why shouldn't we fish for them if it's not illegal?

It's a personal thing, there's nothing you can do about an unintended capture, but many anglers are not great and handling fish, in fact, the word I would use is crap, plus I assume that there is no research into their likely chance of survival after capture.

With such a rare species (though I appreciate that their numbers can be great in some rivers) i wouldn't target them unless I was confident that killing (which I would assume could happen), wouldn't have an effect on numbers and secondly, that my catching them wouldn't encourage others to do the same, as, once they become a target for a number of anglers, the pressure could do irreparable harm to the stocks.

Pretty much spot on with what I think.

Apart from the water I fish on a regular basis, which is a small club with only a small percentage (10%?) of fly anglers I also fish another river once or twice a year for trout that coincidentally has shad runs. The club that owns the rights to this water is aware of the shad but does not advertise their existence. Most anglers on this water are day ticket purchasers.

Apart from the mass killings (deliberate) of thirty years ago I have not yet seen a shad die after capture when caught and handled and released properly (i.e as quickly and gently as possible and allowing the fish to swim off under its own steam after being supported by the angler).

Obviously I have no knowledge of long term effects but I have not seen dead fish in the river during the season.

My opinion is that today the angler's knowledge of fish and the requirements for careful fish handling is so much greater than thirty, twenty or even ten years ago. As a consequence the quality of fishing (coarse and game) has improved in a lot of the rivers that I am fortunate to fish in both in numbers and average size.

If the twaite shad were to have its protection status raised to that of the Allis shad then obviously I would not fish in areas where I thought I might catch them during the (very short) season that they are in freshwater as adults.

As I said in my first post though, my concern is for the image of anglers in general should some poor soul be made a target by an enthusiastic copper/bailiff,etc. based on inaccurate information.

I shall do some more homework anyway. It's interesting to hear people's views on this, 'cos I've been scratching my head for a while.
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#6 Worms

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 07:03 PM

I shall do some more homework anyway. It's interesting to hear people's views on this, 'cos I've been scratching my head for a while.


Ok, I sent emails to many bodies, the EA, Natural England, Dyfed Powys police force, Countryside Council for Wales and other local bodies.

I received answers from all, mainly repeating what I already knew. My main query however was to establish why Salmon and other protected fish could be legally fished for and Shad could/not.

The result is that fishing for Shad is illegal but incidental captures are not. The details as to the reasons behind Salmon/Shad question has been answered in the following attachment.

Many thanks to Nigel George, Chief Inspector Dyfed/Powys Police and especially to Dylan Lloyd of CCW for their help in clarifying matters.
Attached File  Fish_Shad_position_Memo_info_request.pdf   12.12K   539 downloads
Eating wild caught fish is good for my health, reduces food miles and keeps me fit trying to catch them........it's my choice to do it, not yours to stop me!