Harbour’s permits are ‘unlawful’

RULES controlling bait digging in Pagham Harbour are set to be scrapped.

West Sussex County Council is to axe its permits for fishing and bait digging within the local nature reserve.

The council’s deputy leader, Lionel Barnard, has announced he is set to make the decision next Thursday.

A report by the council’s director of communities, commissioning, Sue Hawker, states the 25 fishing and 15 bait digging permits can no longer be justified.

The permits allow the holders to take part in the activities during certain periods of the year and within defined areas.

But Mrs Hawker says: “There is a public right to fish in tidal wates including the high seas, estuaries and tidal watercourses as well as from the foreshore.

“The right extends only to the mean high water mark of ordinary tides and, therefore, applies within Pagham Harbour.

“There are also common law rights that exist over the foreshore and these include the right to dig for lugworms for use as bait.”

However the bait must be taken by, or on behalf of, the person who will be using it.

“It is therefore not lawful for the county council to restrict the number of people who fish or bait dig in the reserve and, as such, the current fishing and bait digging permit system is void.”