Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 16:54 UK

'Disturb anglers' comedian urges

Griff Rhys Jones and his dog
Griff Rhys Jones has declared open season on anglers

Comedian and television presenter Griff Rhys Jones has stuck his oar in by encouraging canoeists to "disturb as many fisherman as possible".

He has further risked offending anglers by saying "if a man gently paddling a canoe down a river is a disturbance, then long live that disturbance".

Anglers say they have a "legal right to go fishing in peace".

Jones is presenting a BBC series about British rivers in which he canoes along hidden waterways.

He first declared open season on anglers in a interview for BBC Countryfile magazine, published this week.

"I've met a lot of fisherman and decided that we should disturb as many as possible," he said.

"What we all need to remember is that the river isn't there for a few, but for the many."

'Great exception'

He has since tried to clarify his points, while sticking to his main argument that "canoes disturb neither fish nor fishermen".

"In the article which has caused this apparent stir, I clearly say that access should not be allowed on some areas of river - 'we don't want canoes churning up the salmon beds of the Wye'," he said.

"I am a supporter of all angling associations and thoroughly respect the rights of fishermen to peacefully fish on riverbanks, but I am also a great supporter of canoeists and want to see as much access to the rivers of England and Wales as is readily available in Scotland and much of the rest of the world."

Mark Lloyd, chief executive of Angling Trust, had been upset by the initial comments.

He said: "We take great exception to Griff Rhys Jones's calls for canoeists to cause disturbance to anglers and to trespass."

He added that anglers contributed £3.5 billion every year towards the British economy with £25m of that on licences.

River Journeys begins on BBC One from Sunday 26 July.

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