A steady increase in complaints of canoe trespass incidents from angling clubs and fishery owners has prompted Fish Legal to send a legal ‘letter before action’ to the British Canoe Union (BCU), Canoe Wales (CW) and Canoe England (CE).
The letter demands that the three organisations stop publishing information suggesting that there is a general right of navigation on non-tidal waterways in England and Wales, and/or that the law relating to navigation on rivers is unclear. There is no such general right of navigation in law, and permission for access is required to use boats on rivers, so legal action to force these organisations to stop publishing this information – which can encourage unlawful behaviour – now seems to be the only option.
“We are taking action to stop the canoeing governing bodies publishing inaccurate information and to protect the rights of our member angling clubs and riparian owners. This may now include court proceedings,” explained Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust and Fish Legal. Our members have often tried to make agreements with canoeing clubs for greater access, with reasonable conditions to protect the water environment and avoid interference with fishing. However, these offers are repeatedly rejected, because the canoeing governing bodies insist that such agreements must allow unlimited access, or that permission is not needed. ”
A response to the ‘letter before action’ is pending and the Angling Trust and Fish Legal hope that taking this formal step may encourage the BCU, CE and CW to resolve matters constructively, without the need to go to court."