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Reading West MP and Parliamentary spokesman for angling, Martin Salter has written to Fisheries Minister Huw Irranca-Davies regarding the ongoing campaign by the British Canoe Union (BCU) to achieve a statutory right of access regardless of the impact on other river users or on the environment.

Mr Salter had received representations from anglers following an incident on the River Lyn and the recent publicity given to the issue by TV celebrity Griff Rhys-Jones earlier this month. Mr Salter has outlined his concerns on the sabotage of the voluntary access agreements by some of the more militant canoeists. In his letter, Mr Salter urged the Minister to meet with angling bodies to hear from them the problems they have been experiencing with unauthorised canoeing and the failures to co-operate with existing voluntary access agreements.

Martin Salter said:-

It is clear that although there is plenty of room on our larger rivers for everyone, canoeists and anglers alike, the militant tendency within the British Canoe Union is absolutely determined to continue to trespass and disrupt the effective voluntary agreements that are in place that allow both sports to exist side by side. I will be emphasising to Huw Irranca-Davies the need for him to stand firm against the BCU demands for a statutory right of access irrespective of the damage and disturbance they cause to other water users.”

Mr Salter has also made representations on the issue of hydropower and the need to protect migratory fish runs.

Mark Lloyd chief executive of the Angling Trust said:-

I look forward to meeting with the Minister and will be asking him to confirm publicly the government’s repeatedly stated position, which is to support the formation of voluntary access agreements so that anglers and canoeist can co-exist within sensible rules which protect fisheries and the rights of property owners and lessees.  We will also be asking the Minister to take action to enforce the law against illegal canoeing and those who, on web sites and in publications, encourage others to trespass on rivers outside the terms of these agreements.”

John Slader of the Salmon and Trout Association said:-
"The Salmon & Trout Association is very concerned at the continuing reports of canoeists who abuse the right of access and welcomes an early opportunity to meet with the Minister to discuss this unacceptable behaviour.   The association strongly supports locally brokered access agreements that allow efficient, effective management of  rivers and streams, ensuring that no one sport impacts upon the enjoyment of another and that the water environment is protected."