Anglers have been told they can only fish on a pier they’ve used for over 100 years if they pass police vetting and sit a health and safety test.
The restrictions on Dover Sea Angling Association (DSAA) members have been set out by The Port of Dover which blames security threats for the change.
The long list of hoops to jump through includes having two Covid-negative tests, paying for and providing four security guards, and not being allowed to take fishing knives or scissors – an important part of their tackle.
The demands coincided with a scrutiny meeting at Dover District Council on Monday and will first be tested at a trial day which will be financially covered by the port.
But the anglers argue the conditions are unachievable for them on a regular basis with the main sticking point being the crippling cost of paying for four security guards employed by the port.
Its chairman Richard Yates also described it as a “disproportionate” response to any perceived threat – especially when ferry passengers don’t undergo the same checks.
Anglers have been allowed to fish at the pier – a harbour arm at the busy Port of Dover – since the association formed in 1903.
“I feel like they’ve sat in a room to try and work out what would be the hardest for us to achieve…”
He said: “At that point the association was running competitions on Admiralty Pier and southern breakwater.
“It’s become like a right of the Dover people.
“Grandads have taken their children for decades and then they’ve taken their children.”
But now that the Prince of Wales Pier and the southern and eastern breakwaters can’t be fished, Admiralty Pier is the only sea-ward structure they can cast out from.
DSAA took over management of Admiralty pier after the Great Storm of 1987.
Using £180,000 of its own money, its members paid for repairs and later spent more money on toilets – an investment of £250,000 in total excluding rent.
As such they feel they are stakeholders and should be factored into any decisions about it.
Mr Yates said the group has worked with the port during times of change and they are happy to continue until a resolution is found. But the trial day is “completely over the top.”
A Port of Dover spokesman said: “The Port faces a number of significant challenges regarding Covid safety and the security of its operational areas in the western part of its estate, which includes the Admiralty Pier.
“We remain in dialogue with the local sea angling community regarding these challenges and have been working hard on developing a potential test day to assess new procedures and likely requirements, which has been proposed to the Dover Sea Angling Association and Sea Angling Trust.”
He said: “They must know it is physically and financially impossible to us on a regular basis.
“They offered to pay for the trial day but that’s no good for regular use.”
He estimates outgoings would be £1200 every time they want to use the pier when they only collect an income of about £350 – £7 per head.
He added: “Our argument is they have accommodated the anglers in everything they have done, they should factor us in to those costs.
“I feel like they’ve sat in a room to try and work out what would be the hardest for us to achieve.”
On a normal day of pier fishing the association had two pier attendants on Admiralty Pier, trained in basic security helping 5,000 individual fishermen per year.
Every person on the pier must has to be a member of the club. Their details are logged at the harbour board’s request. Those details, including anglers’ addressees are available for inspection whenever requested by the port.
One attendant mans the gate and the other roam up and down checking the pier is being kept clean and everyone was adhering to the rules.
Now, Mr Yates said, each member must undergo an even stricter level of security vetting than port worker.
The difference being the one group of people being checked for knives is the one group the port knows will be carrying them – in their tackle boxes.
Read more: All the latest news from Dover