Members of an angling club have been told they need to pass health and safety exams, as well as hire security guards, in order to return to a pier where they have been able to fish for the past 100 years.
The new rules for members of the Dover Sea Angling Association have been set out by the Port of Dover authority, which blames the change on “Covid safety and the security of its operational areas”.
Anglers will now have to pass police vetting, sit a health and safety exam, provide two negative Covid tests and pay for four security guards before they can dangle their lines off Admiralty Pier.
Richard Yates, chairman of the Association, called the new rules “completely over the top”, adding that “it’s like they’ve sat in a room to try and work out what would be the hardest for us to achieve”.
The port authority has even banned anglers from bringing fishing knives or scissors, which are an important part of their tackle, typically used to cut their lines when they tie on their hooks.
The new demands, which were first presented at a Dover District Council scrutiny meeting on July 26, will be tested at a trial day which will be financially covered by the port.
However, after the trial day the anglers will have to pay for the port’s demands themselves.
Members of the Association have argued that the new conditions for using Admiralty Pier are unachievable for them on a regular basis, in particular the crippling cost of paying for four security guards employed by the port.
Mr Yates described it as a “disproportionate response to any perceived threat”, particularly when Port of Dover ferry passengers are not required to undergo the same rigorous checks.
Stuart Singleton-White, the head of campaigns at the Angling Trust, echoed Mr Yates’ concerns, adding that the response to the described “security concerns” has been “disproportionate and unnecessary”.
He said: “They have ignored the fact the Dover Sea Angling Association have successfully managed security on the pier for over 30 years, all through different levels of national security. This latest proposal is not acceptable.”
Admiralty Pier, a harbour arm at the busy port, is the only sea-ward structure remaining where anglers can cast their lines, since the Prince of Wales Pier and the southern and eastern breakwaters can no longer be fished.
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.”