Strong opposition has been voiced against Government proposals to tax everyone who fishes at sea

Strong opposition has been voiced against Government proposals to tax everyone who fishes at sea.

David Miliband, the environment secretary, has suggested that introducing a rod licence from 2009 for anyone who fishes from a boat or from the shore would raise funds to help manage fish stocks. It would also provide money to create improved shore access, small boat launch sites, and artificial reefs, he said.

The sea fishing licence would be similar to existing freshwater licences, and would apply to people fishing from all boats, whether privately owned or chartered, as well as piers, beaches, and breakwaters.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk, is one of several MPs to have criticised the proposals. “To charge fees for something that has been done almost since the beginning of time for free will upset a lot of people”, he said, “it is a money spinner for the Treasury.”

Angling groups have been even more outspoken. “It is part of our history that we can fish the sea. It is like our freedom of speech, a right,” said one.